Comedy Central comedian to replace iconic CBS host

Posted Apr 10, 2014 by Nathan Salant
Ascerbic TV host and comedian Stephen Colbert has agreed to move to CBS next year to replace David Letterman, an iconic figure who revolutionized the television talk-show format in 30 years on late-night television.
Comedian and television host Stephen Colbert signs autographs at Knox College in Galesburg  Ill.  in...
Comedian and television host Stephen Colbert signs autographs at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., in 2006.
Kelly Martin/Wikimedia Commons
Colbert, 49, who plays the conservative host of the Comedy Central cable channel's late-night The Colbert Report, signed a five-year deal to take over Letterman's Late Show, CBS said Thursday.
"Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television," said CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves in a written statement announcing the forthcoming change, according to the Reuters international news service.
"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," Moonves said.
Letterman announced last week that he plans to retire next year.
Letterman energized the increasingly staid late-night talk-show scene in 1982 as host of the NBC network's Late Night, introducing irreverent comedy, unusual acts and audience participation into the mix.
Many of his innovations were merely contemporary comedic updates of what longtime NBC host Johnny Carson [Unlink] had done for years on the Tonight Show, but were considerably more edgy.
Some of his more famous segments included dropping heavy objects from tall buildings so they smashed on the ground below, bringing audience members to the stage to show off odd tricks their pets could do and memorable verbal fireworks when guests did not appreciate Letterman's style.
Letterman moved to CBS and Late Show in 1993 and has hosted the show there ever since.
Colbert said in a written statement Thursday that his new job was better than he ever imagined for himself.
"Simply being a guest on David Letterman's show has been a highlight of my career," Colbert said.
"I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave's lead," he said.
Whether Late Show will be taped in New York, as Letterman had demanded, still is an open question, CBS said.
Colbert also tapes his show in Manhattan.