Much more on this throughout the day, but all you need to know right now is: Stephen Colbert will take over as the host of The Late Show when David Letterman retires in 2015. Here’s the official announcement:
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.”
CBS is about to get a lot more Hobbit jokes.
UPDATE: now that I’ve had time to process the news, some thoughts. Stephen Colbert’s probably relieved he can stop his blowhard schtick for a few years, but “Stephen Colbert” will be missed — there’s no other character, and he’s most certainly a character, like him on TV. Secondly, moving from Comedy Central to CBS shouldn’t defang Colbert too much — Craig Ferguson’s been doing his weird, talking-robot thing for years, and although The Late Show has a much bigger profile than The Late Late Show, I’m hoping Colbert agreed to the gig on his terms. Lastly, will his first guest be Jon Stewart or Rollerblading Bryan Cranston?
UPDATE #2: this is excellent news.