“I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”
After much speculation, today the big announcement was made as to who will be replacing David Letterman on The Late Show.
On April 3, Letterman announced his 2015 retirement from the show which he had been hosting for 21 years. Just one week later, CBS announced Stephen Colbert as Letterman’s replacement on the late night talk show.
“Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,” CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves said in a statement. “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 has hosted his own Comedy Central Show, The Colbert Report, since 2005 after being in the cast of The Daily Show for eight years prior.
On The Colbert Report, the 49-year old political satirist plays a “blustery right-wing pundit” whose life somewhat reflects Colbert’s own: both were raised in South Carolina, both are the youngest of 11 children. However, Colbert clearly leans toward the Democratic Party.
This left-wing lean was clearly seen during the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner when, in his politically conservative character, he satirized the George W. Bush administration by saying, “I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound—with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.”
So what does this mean for the future of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert? Will he hold on to his famous satirical character, which he was known for keeping even in public? He says no.
“I won’t be doing the new show in character, so we’ll all get to find out how much of him was me,” Colbert told ABC. “I’m looking forward to it.”
As James Poniewozik pointed out in Time magazine, Colbert isn’t a one-trick pony.
“The guy’s got a lot of tools in his box, and his fake pundit isn’t the only thing he can do with them,” Poniewozik wrote. “Nor is politics, as anyone knows who’s watched him geek out on-air over Tolkien, or roller-dance with Bryan Cranston to ‘Get Lucky.'”
Originally, CBS hired David Letterman to do what he had already been doing so well on NBC, so hopefully that trend will continue with Colbert being himself: the geeky, intelligent, funny Colbert that he is. After all, it’s working well for Fallon on NBC’s Late Night.
The location of the new Late Show has not been determined, nor has a premiere date for the new show. In the meantime, Colbert will continue to feel thankful for the opportunity to step into some large shoes.
“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.”
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