Does CBS know that Stephen Colbert is playing a character on his current show?
Comedian Stephen Colbert speaks to supporters on the sidewalk in front of the Federal Election Commission in Washington, Thursday, June 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Does CBS know that it hired a fake guy to host the "Late Show"?
Well, not exactly a fake guy. But Stephen Colbert is the only late-night host who is playing a character on his show - a character he will shed when he succeeds David Letterman sometime in 2015.
Just last month, it was reported that Colbert has the highest Q score of anyone working in late-night TV. (A Q score is based on a survey that measures name recognition and likability.) Which bodes well for Colbert and CBS.
But you can't help but wonder if Colbert's popularity is based on both (a) viewers who understand that he's satirizing right-wing television personalities and (b) right-wing television viewers who don't get that it's satire.
Will the real Stephen Colbert be as popular as the faux Stephen Colbert who has hosted "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central since October 2005?
If I had to guess - and that's all we can do right now - I would say yes. Colbert is a very funny guy. A very personable guy. If anyone can make a success walking in Letterman's shoes, it's him.
There's a lot we don't know about the "Late Show with Stephen Colbert." Like who will produce it. And where it will be produced.
The fact that CBS is giving the job to Colbert might be an indication that the show will remain in New York City, although that's not certain. And should it remain in the Ed Sullivan Theater, or is that too much to ask of the guy who succeeds Letterman?
The most shocking thing about CBS' announcement is how quickly it came. That would seem to be an indication that the network had been talking to Colbert before Letterman's announcement ... but that's just speculation.
It does quickly end the speculation about CBS' late-night future. And open up speculation about who will replace Colbert on Comedy Central, and what that show might look like.
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