Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
FILE - This Sept. 23, 2012 file photo shows TV personality Stephen Colbert at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards Governors Ball in Los Angeles. CBS on Thursday, April 10, 2014, announced that Colbert, the host of “The Colbert Report,” will succeed David Letterman as the host of “The Late Show.” (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
Stephen Colbert to replace Letterman on late show
First Published Apr 10 2014 02:28 pm • Last Updated Apr 10 2014 02:28 pm

New York • CBS moved swiftly Thursday to replace the retiring David Letterman with Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, who will take over the "Late Show" next year and do battle with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel for late-night television supremacy.

Colbert, 49, has been hosting "The Colbert Report" at 11:30 p.m. ET since 2005, in character as a fictional conservative talk-show host. The character will retire with "The Colbert Report."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career," Colbert said. "I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead."

Letterman, who turns 67 on Saturday, announced on his show last week that he would retire sometime in 2015, although he hasn’t set a date. CBS said Thursday that creative elements of Colbert’s new show, including where it will be based, will be announced later.

Mayors of New York and Los Angeles have already publicly urged the new "Late Show" host to choose their city. New York would appear to have the clear edge, since Colbert is already based in New York and CBS owns the Ed Sullivan Theater, where the "Late Show" has been taped since Letterman took over in 1993.

Letterman offered his endorsement Thursday. "Stephen has always been a real friend to me," he said. "I’m very excited for him, and I’m flattered that CBS chose him. I also happen to know they wanted another guy with glasses."

It’s a rapidly changing period for that time slot. Fallon took over for Jay Leno on NBC’s "Tonight" show in February, and has dominated the ratings since his arrival, with Letterman and Kimmel running neck-and-neck for second. Chelsea Handler has also said she is about to end her talk show on E! Entertainment Television.

CBS chose not to break the mold: CBS, ABC and NBC will all compete at 11:35 p.m. with shows hosted by white males. CBS, which has an older audience and generally seeks personalities with the widest appeal possible, is taking a chance with a personality whose show has a much more specific appeal. But, like Fallon and Kimmel, Colbert is popular with young men and active on the Internet and social media.

"Our discussions really centered on finding the most talented, the most creative (choice), the person who was going to conduct the most interesting interviews and be the most interesting person himself, and that’s what led us to Stephen," said Nina Tassler, CBS entertainment chairman. She said CBS considered several candidates, but did not name them.

Colbert’s show won the Emmy for best variety series last year and has earned two Peabody Awards. It’s another big move for a Jon Stewart protege: Colbert worked on "The Daily Show" for eight years before getting his own program, and John Oliver is about to launch a weekly show for HBO later this month.


story continues below
story continues below

The decision opens up a hole on Comedy Central’s schedule. The network said in a statement Thursday that "we look forward to the next eight months of the ground-breaking ‘Colbert Report’ and wish Stephen the very best."

Stewart told New York magazine on Wednesday night that Colbert would be terrific for Letterman’s job. Stewart said he likes what he does and Colbert has a better opportunity to broaden out his comedy than he would.

"He is a uniquely talented individual," Stewart said. "He’s wonderful in ‘Colbert Report,’ but he’s got gears he hasn’t even shown people yet. He would be remarkable."

The choice of Colbert quickly drew the ire of a real-life conservative talk- show host. Radio’s Rush Limbaugh said Thursday that CBS "has just declared war on the heartland of America. No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values, conservatives. Now it’s just wide open."

Limbaugh mispronounced Colbert’s name as col-bert, instead of the proper pronunciation, col-bear.

The man Colbert is replacing was a target for conservatives, too. Letterman made Republican favorite Sarah Palin a frequent target of his barbs.

Tassler declined comment on what Colbert’s ascension will mean for Craig Ferguson, who follows Letterman’s show in the 12:35 a.m. time slot and was considered a candidate for Letterman’s job.

Colbert would likely enter into some friendly competition with Fallon. Colbert appeared on Fallon’s first "Tonight" show, one of a line of personalities in a gag involving people who had to "pay up" on a bet about whether Fallon would ever get the "Tonight" gig.

Brad Adgate, an analyst for Horizon Media, described Colbert as "the best talk-show host available." He said CBS wanted to move quickly to make its choice for Letterman’s replacement before next month’s meeting with advertisers in New York about the upcoming season’s schedule.

"When you’ve got fire in the belly, you move fast," Tassler said.

———

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.