April 10, 2014

THE SKED: Stephen Colbert Is the New Dave


Jon Stewart is becoming positively Lorne Michaels-ian in his influence over comedy culture far beyond his own show.  It was announced today, to no one’s great surprise, that his colleague and protege Stephen Colbert will take over the helm of CBS’s late-night talk show when David Letterman retires next year.  (Once it was revealed that Colbert had been synching his Comedy Central contracts to coincide with the expiration of Letterman’s deals, that was clearly where things were headed.)  This, of course, is on top of John Oliver’s new HBO show that begins later this month, not to mention the success of other Daily Show alumni from Steve Carell to Al Madrigal and Rob Corddry.  CBS, meanwhile, avoided all of the mess that ABC has had with Nightline and NBC has had with just about everyone, dealing with succession quickly and smoothly.

With Colbert’s ascension, the remaking of the broadcast network 11:30PM universe is complete, as he joins Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, two other hosts who were elsewhere until recently.  (Oddly, Colbert is the only one who’s already been hosting an 11:30PM show, albeit on cable.)  The CBS Colbert will presumably be different from his Comedy Central incarnation; although the trademark “Colbert” character will doubtless appear, Colbert will be expected to appeal to a wider audience.  Colbert will nevertheless provide a different kind of presence in late-night than Fallon and Kimmel, more political and potentially even controversial, as the recent fuss over a Colbert Report tweet (which Colbert himself didn’t send) indicated.

The next question:  what will Comedy Central do with its soon-to-be-vacant 11:30PM slot?  Promote another Daily Show featured player?  Go elsewhere on its talent roster?  (Amy Schumer is an obvious possibility.)  Or look to the outside world?


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."