Stephen Colbert is CBS’ top choice to replace the retiring David Letterman, and has indicated that he’s willing to take over the Late Show when the time comes, people familiar with both sides of the discussions tell Mashable.
Colbert has not had any formal contract discussions with CBS, and no agreement is in place, but sources tell Mashable that he first engaged with network executives while Letterman was still mulling the timing of his retirement. Though CBS has had conversations with other candidates, including Colbert’s Comedy Central counterpart Jon Stewart, individuals with knowledge of the situation say Colbert is currently the front-and-center candidate.
A CBS spokesman told Mashable: “We’re not commenting on any rumors or speculation about succession.” Comedy Central had no comment.
Colbert’s contract to host The Colbert Report on Comedy Central runs through the end of 2014, which would free him up in time to move over to CBS when Letterman ends his 33-year run in late-night TV. Letterman left the exact date of his departure vague while announcing his retirement plans on Thursday.
“We don’t have the timing of this precisely down; it will be at least a year or so,” Letterman said on Thursday’s episode of the Late Show. “But at some time in the not-too-distant future — 2015, for the love of God.”
Colbert would leave behind the pseudo-conservative persona he’s cultivated at The Colbert Report and just be himself at his CBS home, one of the individuals told Mashable. He has stepped out of character on rare occasion, though not on his show, and possesses the same wry, incisive interview skills that Letterman has showcased for decades.
A few questions remain for CBS in its pursuit of Colbert; money is a big one. The gap between a potential network payday and a Comedy Central salary has significantly narrowed in recent years. Plus, Colbert is meticulously topical in his selection of guests, many of whom aren’t stars, but the Late Show gig would force him to shoot the breeze with all manner of celebrities peddling movies and TV shows. That isn’t to say he wouldn’t do it well — but would he want to?
Source: Mashable | JOSH DICKEY