Wow. I wouldn't exactly describe CBS as a network that likes to take risks, but today it made a big gamble, and a smart one, too. Stephen Colbert, who currently lampoons conservatives as host of The Colbert Report, will take over as host of Late Show when David Letterman retires in 2015. That was fast! But maybe not that surprising, as Colbert was an early favorite for the position and was rumored to be CBS's top choice for the gig.
Let's get the specifics out of the way: The deal is a five-year contract and is effective as soon as Letterman signs off (which is still nebulously scheduled for sometime "in 2015"). The location of the new version of Late Show is still to-be-determined; Letterman hosts it from the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City, and Colbert's current show also films in the Big Apple, so I'd assume it isn't moving. And with all the historical significance of the Ed Sullivan Theater, a move would surprise me. However, Los Angeles has been lobbying hard for the Late Show to move West because Jimmy Fallon moved The Tonight Show to New York. Producers for Colbert's Late Show are also to-be-determined.
Personally, I love this decision because Colbert is one of the sharpest people on television, but I do have a few reservations. What will the new show be like? How will Colbert do when he's not playing a character? Can Colbert conduct the type of late-night interview that anchors the genre when he's not satirizing?
As far as Colbert's current gig on The Colbert Report is concerned, his contract with Comedy Central expires at the end of this year, and the network has released a statement that implies the The Colbert Report will call it a show at the end of 2014:
Comedy Central is proud that the incredibly talented Stephen Colbert has been part of our family for nearly two decades. We look forward to the next eight months of the ground-breaking Colbert Report and wish Stephen the very best.
Well, what do you think?