A week after David Letterman announced his retirement, CBS has named his successor.
Stephen Colbert has inked a five-year deal to take over Late Show, a move that is effective
as soon as Letterman officially steps aside from the late-night show he has headlined since
its launch on CBS in 1993. Colbert is host of Comedy Central’s faux-news show The Colbert
Report, which airs at the same time as Late Show, 11:30 PM. Colbert had been on the radar
of top CBS brass for a while and was said to be a top choice of CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves.
Colbert too had had an eye on the job for a long time, synching up his Comedy Central contracts
with late show with David Letterman logo Letterman’s. His current ones coming up at the end
of this year, making him available for the Late Show host transition, slated for sometime in 2015.
“Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,” said Moonves
today. “David Letterman’s legacy and accomplishments are an incredible source of pride for all
of us here, and today’s announcement speaks to our commitment of upholding what he established
for CBS in late night.”Colbert, a Second City alum, was a correspondent on Jon Stewart’s Daily
Show team for eight seasons before spinning off Colbert Report in 2005. The show has two
Peabody Awards and earned 27 Emmy nominations, winning four times including for Outstanding
Variety Series last year when it broke The Daily Show’s 10-year winning streak. He will now ditch the
conservative pundit character he has played for almost a decade.
CBS said in its announcement that specific creative elements well as the producers and the location
for the Colbert-hosted Late Show will be determined and announced at a later date. That language
is sure to pique interest from politicians in both New York, where Letterman’s show currently lives
at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, and in LA, where Mayor Eric Garcetti and film czar Ken Ziffren called
Moonves directly asking the CBS chief to move the late-night franchise to the West Coast.
That came one day after NY Mayor Bill de Blasio urged Moonves to keep Late Show in New York after
Letterman steps down. Colbert has deep roots in New York where he has lived and worked for two
decades, so keeping the show in his home town would appear a more natural choice.