CBS has announced that Stephen Colbert will succeed David Letterman as host of the Late Show when the legendary chat show host eventually bows out in 2015.
Having hosted the show for more than two decades, Letterman announced his decision to retire on April 3rd, informing his audience that he had told network head Leslie Moonves about his decision long ago. CBS have moved swiftly to acquire Colbert’s services and the Comedy Central host revealed he couldn’t be more pleased.
“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” said Colbert in a statement. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”
The 49-year-old then quipped: ‘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.’
Despite being hired on the strength of his showings on The Colbert Report, where he plays a right wing and very conservative caricature of himself, CBS have confirmed that he will not be reprising the role for his new show. Yet, it is Colbert’s creativity and quick wit that CBS will be hoping can give them an edge in the late night ratings war. “It has usually been our policy that when you hire the right person, you let them be creative and let them do their job,” said Nina Tassler, chairman of CBS Entertainment. “We are extremely excited about what he’s going to bring to the time slot.”
“Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,” Moonves added. Letterman himself also gave his blessing to the union, saying “Stephen has always been a real friend to me. I’m very excited for him, and I’m flattered that CBS chose him. I also happen to know they wanted another guy with glasses”
Letterman’s impending departure comes amid a wider shake up within late night television, as Jimmy Fallon replaced Jay Leno as ABC’s host and NBC turned to Jimmy Kimmel for their late night show, whilst there are also uncertainties about Craig Ferguson’s position in his 12:30 role at CBS.
Colbert will continue hosting the Report on Comedy Central for at least eight more months, and it seems as though his position will end at that time as he begins to transfer over to CBS. “Comedy Central is proud that the incredibly talented Stephen Colbert has been part of our family for nearly two decades,” the network said in a statement. Colbert has been hosting his own show since 2005 and was previously a correspondent on The Daily Show. “We look forward to the next eight months of the groundbreaking Colbert Report and wish Stephen the very best.” Colbert’s departure will also leave a large gap in Comedy Central’s line up, as the show in its current format surely cannot continue without its star host.
Colbert’s premiere date will be announced after a timeline is set for Letterman to go off the air. CBS has a five-year contract for Colbert to host.