Stephen Colbert has signed a five-year contract with CBS to succeed David Letterman as host of the “Late Show.”
It’s a great move for the once Tiffany Network. CBS will benefit as the 49-year-old comedian draws a younger audience than Letterman, who will celebrate his 67th birthday this weekend.
I’m not sure about Colbert though. The Late Show will provide a much larger platform vis-à-vis Comedy Central, home of The Report. The bigger group, however, will be older and more middle-of-the-road than the edgy audience that currently tunes in or watches Colbert online for his know-it-all attitude and biting (largely political) satirical wit.
The late night network format is geared to schmoozing with and stroking of celebrities. That works for Jimmy Fallon, who as a Jay Leno mini-me, is scoring good ratings for the “The Tonight Show.”
With his “in the know” bits, Colbert is cut from a different cloth. When he launches on CBS in 2015, Colbert’s heartland audience just might not get him. They may pine for Jay’s comeback to the airwaves.
CBS says Colbert will not stay in character, which will officially end The Report.
Jon Stewart, Colbert’s mentor, has given his protégé a ringing endorsement. He told New York magazine Colbert has gears that he hasn’t even used.
Said Stewart: “He's done an amazing job with just that very narrow cast of characters, but he's got a lot more he can show. He's got some skill sets that are really applicable, interviewing-wise, but also he's a really, really good actor and also an excellent improvisational comedian. He's also got great writing skills. He's got a lot of the different capacities. Being able to expand upon [those] would be exciting."
As a long-time fan, I'll be watching and rooting for Stephen. I only lasted the opening week with Jimmy.