Stephen Colbert is moving to network television. The Comedy Central host has been hired to replace the retiring David Letterman on CBS’ The Late Show.
According to The Wrap, “CBS has named Stephen Colbert as new host of the “Late Show,” effective when David Letterman retires.”
This is obviously a gigantic win for CBS. Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report has been garnering praise from critics over the past two years, and in the view of some has surpassed The Daily Show as the top late night political satire program on Comedy Central.
Jon Stewart had been publicly pushing for Colbert to get the job. Stewart said, “He’s done an amazing job with just that very narrow cast of character, but he’s got a lot more he can show. He’s got some skill sets that are really applicable, interviewing-wise, but also he’s a really, really good actor and also an excellent improvisational comedian. He’s also got great writing skills. He’s got a lot of the different capacities. Being able to expand upon [those] would be exciting.”
The move now leaves 46 year old ABC host Jimmy Kimmel as the dean of late night. It will be interesting to see what Colbert can do on network television. Will he play the Colbert character from his Comedy Central show, or will he become a more traditional late night host? How will Colbert fare in the hourlong format?
If CBS is smart, they will reinvent late night by letting Colbert bring his popular character to the network. Colbert could be hugely successful on CBS. Interestingly, the move to CBS also keeps Colbert out of competition with Jon Stewart.
Regular Colbert Report viewers will be able to watch Stewart at 11, and flip the channel to CBS at 11:35. This is a win-win for CBS and Colbert. The network gets to replace Letterman with someone who already has a huge audience and a unique identity. There will be no worries about filling Dave’s shoes. Colbert will be more than able to stand on his own from day one.
Before Letterman arrived at CBS, the network’s history had been filled with failed late night attempts. Now Colbert will build on what Letterman started, and possibly give Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight show a serious run for its money.
America get ready, because Stephen Colbert is heading to the big time.