David Letterman’s era on television is coming to an end, and CBS is obviously looking to replace him. That said, the Hollywood Reporter reports today that the network approached former Daily Show correspondent and Jon Stewart fill-in John Oliver last year about potentially hosting a late night show.
The pitch was for Oliver potentially to occupy the 12:30 time slot currently filled by The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in the event Ferguson does not re-up his contract at the end of 2014, or possibly for Oliver to launch a different show that would be syndicated by CBS, according to sources.
The talks, which ended when Oliver chose in November to host a weekly show on HBO, illustrate the significant challenges CBS faces in remaking its late-night block now that David Letterman announced Thursday he will retire from Late Show sometime in 2015. Ferguson has his fans, but he has not emerged as Letterman’s heir apparent, because his show is perceived as a more niche chat hour built around his quirky interview style rather than a mainstream variety show that has embraced the digital era, as Jimmy Fallon has at NBC and Jimmy Kimmel at ABC. In addition, the fact that Letterman’s Worldwide Pants production company produces with CBS both his Late Show and Ferguson’s Late Late Show seemingly gives the network a chance to clean house and rebuild with a new generation of talent, if it chooses to do so.
While the window of opportunity with Oliver might have closed with him signing a deal to do new show on HBO, CBS is looking at other potential hosts as a major shake-up to late night comes for them in 2015.
Names ranging from Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris to Chris Rock and Conan O’Brien (still doing a broadcast-style show despite a cable platform on TBS) have already surfaced as potential Letterman replacements, with multiple sources agreeing Ferguson is not seriously in the running. Female-skewing Chelsea Handler surely will put her hat in the ring too, after THR reported earlier this week that she plans to leave E! at the conclusion of her contract this year.
Screw it, let’s have CBS just replace Letterman with Jay Leno, and then follow that with The Late Late Show With Chelsea Handler. It will be the most hated block of television, but one of the highest rated. Old people love Jay Leno and CBS, and as they fall asleep with the TV on, Handler’s annoying voice will wake them up before they die in their sleep. It’s perfect.
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)