The CBS Television Network has just announced Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman as the host of “The Late Show,” effective when Letterman retires in 2015. Colbert — writer and executive producer of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning “The Colbert Report” — has been given a five-year deal.
“Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,” Les Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corporation, says in a press release to announce the hiring. “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.”
There had been a long list of names mentioned to take over the time slot after Letterman announced on April 3 he was ending his time at CBS after 21 years. The selection was critical because NBC has had ratings success since Jimmy Fallon took over “The Tonight Show.” Wednesday night, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” was the top late-night talk show with a 3.0 rating (up 11% from a year ago when Jay Leno hosted). Letterman was second with a 2.5 rating.
“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” Colbert says. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead. 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.”
Since its launch on Comedy Central in 2005, “The Colbert Report” has earned two Peabody Awards and 27 Emmy nominations, including an Emmy win for Outstanding Variety Series (2013) and three Emmy wins for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program (2013, 2010, 2008).