Stephen Colbert will take over CBS's Late Show when David Letterman retires next year after more than two decades as host. "Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career," Colbert says in a statement. "I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead." Colbert's premiere date will be announced after a timeline is set for Letterman to go off the air. CBS has a five-year contract for Colbert to host.
"Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television."
Colbert will not be using his signature character — a caricature of conservative talking heads — on the new show, according to The Wall Street Journal. But even without drawing heavily on politics for humor, Colbert has proven himself an impressive host, and CBS appears to be excited about his selection. "Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television," CBS CEO Les Moonves says in a statement. Further details of Colbert's Late Show, including where it will be filmed, are not yet being announced.
"Stephen has always been a real friend to me. I’m very excited for him, and I’m flattered that CBS chose him," Letterman says in a statement, according to Deadline. "I also happen to know they wanted another guy with glasses."
Colbert will continue hosting the Report on Comedy Central for at least eight more months, and it sounds as though his position will end at that time as he begins to transfer over to CBS. "Comedy Central is proud that the incredibly talented Stephen Colbert has been part of our family for nearly two decades," the network tells The Verge in a statement. Colbert has been hosting his own show since 2005 and was previously a correspondent on The Daily Show. "We look forward to the next eight months of the groundbreaking Colbert Report and wish Stephen the very best." It did not say whether the Report will continue in some other form next year.
The selection of Colbert appears to be a surprisingly quick turnaround for CBS, with Letterman only publicly announcing his retirement last week. Early rumors suggested that Colbert was the frontrunner for the position, but it was unclear what CBS was looking for in a new host, who will be facing off against Jimmy Fallon's eclectic segments on The Tonight Show. The New York Times reports that Colbert's last several contracts with Comedy Central were aligned with Letterman's at CBS, suggesting the network has had its eye on him for some time. "I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me," Colbert says. "Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth."
I'd like to welcome the great @StephenAtHome to network late night and also congratulate him on his new name: Jimmy Colbert.— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) April 10, 2014