Colbert’s hiring comes only a week after Letterman announced his plans to retire. The Comedy Central mainstay’s name quickly rose to the top of rumored candidates, and CBS moved quickly to close a deal.
“Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,” CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves says 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.”
Adds CBS Entertainment chair Nina Tassler, “Stephen is a multi-talented and respected host, writer, producer, satirist and comedian who blazes a trail of thought-provoking conversation, humor and innovation with everything he touches. He is a presence on every stage, with interests and notable accomplishments across a wide spectrum of entertainment, politics, publishing and music. We welcome Stephen to CBS with great pride and excitement, and look forward to introducing him to our network television viewers in late night.”
For his part, Colbert seems excited and appropriately silly about the move. “Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” he says. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead … “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.”
Specifics of the show — including format and shooting location — have been promised for a later date. There is a five-year agreement between Colbert and the network for the new hosting gig.
Comedy Central says “The Colbert Report” will continue for the remainder of 2014 and offers well wishes to Colbert: “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.”
Although his name has been mentioned by many in connection with the replacement, Colbert does come as a bit of a surprise, since “The Colbert Report” remains successful on Comedy Central. There’s also the fact that Colbert will need to change his hosting persona from a fictional conservative pundit to whoever the man really is.
It should be an interesting switch.