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"Late Show' reruns add new material

While host David Letterman is on vacation, former guests will talk of their interviews with him while clips are shown.

Concerning David Letterman, this much we know for sure: He won't be back next week.

In his absence, Late Show executive producer Rob Burnett has put a new twist on reruns the show will air starting Monday. In a conference call Friday Burnett described the revamped reruns as "Late Show Backstage."

Former Late Show guests including Julia Roberts, Jerry Seinfeld, Bruce Willis and Sarah Jessica Parker will reminisce about Letterman and their experiences on the show while watching clips of their appearances.

Letterman, who underwent emergency quintuple heart bypass surgery three weeks ago, made an appearance at the Late Show offices last week and now is on vacation.

"He sounds great. He walked three miles yesterday," Burnett said. "He's feeling very strong and terrific."

Though Letterman, 52, wants to get back to his show now, the comedian is waiting for his doctor's okay before returning. He could be back as soon as Feb. 14 or 21.

"He feels great. He told me that if he had a regular job, he'd already be back at work," Burnett said.

When Letterman does return, there's a chance he'll do it in spurts. He might work a couple of shows one week and a couple the next before coming back full time. In the show's favor is CBS' coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament in March which pre-empts the Late Show.

"It may give Dave an opportunity to come back, work a little bit gradually, get a nice break and then come back again after that," Burnett said.

In the meantime, Burnett has tapped the ubiquitous Regis Philbin, Charles Grodin and Late Show band leader Paul Shaffer to interview the former guests for next week's round of reruns.

If Letterman is out for any real length of time, Burnett said the two of them are not opposed to using guest hosts. It's just that they've never done it before.

"We've never developed a plan for how to do the show with guest hosts," Burnett said. "This is a big decision for us and is one that's hard for us to rush into."