Last week, the news of David Letterman‘s imminent retirement (gently) shook the late night scene, and before anyone could actually mourn the end of the Late Show host’s career, speculation as to who would replace him hit overdrive. We’re guilty of it, too, though our speculative bits were centered around picking a host that could switch up the generally male-dominated late night scene. Our immediate attention turned to women who could take over the desk — women like Chelsea Handler, who already has a late night talk show and is nearing the end of her contract over at E!, along with other (probably high-shooting) picks like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
Essentially, we wondered if the late night world was ready for a woman host (and, yes, although there have been female hosts in the past, none of them have stuck like the dudes have) — and, a week later, we’ve got our answer. They’re not. They are, however, ready for Stephen Colbert, who will now host The Late Show.
CBS announced the news today in a gushing press release that reads (via Vulture):
The CBS Television Network today announced that Stephen Colbert, the host, writer and executive producer of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning ‘The Colbert Report,” will succeed David Letterman as the host of THE LATE SHOW, effective when Mr. Letterman retires from the broadcast. The five-year agreement between CBS and Colbert was announced by Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corporation, and Nina Tassler, Chairman of CBS Entertainment.
Letterman, the legendary, critically acclaimed host of the CBS late night series for 21 years, announced his retirement on his April 3 broadcast. Colbert’s premiere date as host of THE LATE SHOW will be announced after Mr. Lettermen determines a timetable for his final broadcasts in 2015.
Specific creative elements, as well as the producers and the location for the Colbert-hosted LATE SHOW, will be determined and announced at a later date.
“Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,” said Moonves. “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.”
“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,” said Tassler. ”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.”
“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” said Colbert. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”
Adding, “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.”
Colbert’s name emerged early for the gig — though, considering this has all happened in the space of a week, just about anything here is still “early” — and despite not being a barrier-busting woman, he is a fine choice for the gig. Colbert’s Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report, is a clever and original skewering of conservative chat shows, one that has involved Colbert basically playing a parody of himself for its entire runtime. Although it will be a loss to no longer have the kind of voice on the small screen, as Colbert is expected to “drop the act” and play his Late Show gig straight, though I certainly hope we can expect to see at least some of his old act in different elements of the show.
What would you like to see from the new Late Show?