Colbert Brings New Voice, Same Face to Late Night Talk

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CBS has named Stephen Colbert David Letterman's Late Show successor. The change will become effective when Letterman retires in 2015.


A CBS press release, circulated April 10th, offers a few more details:

The CBS Television Network today announced that Stephen Colbert, the host, writer and executive producer of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning “The Colbert Report,” will succeed David Letterman as the host of THE LATE SHOW, effective when Mr. Letterman retires from the broadcast. The five-year agreement between CBS and Colbert was announced by Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corporation, and Nina Tassler, Chairman of CBS Entertainment.


Letterman, the legendary, critically acclaimed host of the CBS late night series for 21 years, announced his retirement on his April 3 broadcast. Colbert's premiere date as host of THE LATE SHOW will be announced after Mr. Lettermen determines a timetable for his final broadcasts in 2015.

Specific creative elements, as well as the producers and the location for the Colbert-hosted LATE SHOW, will be determined and announced at a later date.

So prep for five years of Stephen Colbert, late night talk show host, and not "Stephen Colbert," satirical right-wing cable news host.

The obvious joke on Twitter is, of course, that the "CancelColbert" hashtag discussion really worked.


Colbert is a good fit for late night, given he's already had some (tangential) experience in that arena. He's interviewed countless celebrities and he's game to act in silly sketches. He's had improv experience and knows how to keep a fake relationship scandal under wraps. But, thusfar, he's done that all as a carefully-crafted character, and it'll be interesting to see how his interview style and general tone change when he drops the persona.

In all, it's a smart move for CBS, one likely to attract them a younger audience and an uptick in media attention. Colbert is generally well-liked and a smart dude who will likely prove adept, especially given that aforementioned hashtag, at knowing how to push boundaries without pushing too many buttons. He'll be fun and amicable and professional and silly and sweet, and celebrities will likely want to do their best to please him and his audience. That said, the late night arena is a small one and, for the most part, extremely homogenous. Read: White. Male. Has some sort of tie to SNL. Colbert might tinker with the voice of late night TV, but he won't be changing the face of it at all.

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