Stephen Colbert will take over as the new host of “Late Show,” the network said Thursday.
The comedian and political satirist will take on his new duties after David Letterman retires next year. His hire injects a younger and edgier quality into the show, at a time when late night rivals such as NBC’s Jimmy Fallon and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel are actively courting the YouTube and social media set.
“I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me,” Colbert said in a statement. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”
Colbert inked a five-year deal with CBS, according to the network. Specific creative elements, as well as the producers and the location for the Colbert-hosted “Late Show,” have yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date, CBS said.
Letterman, who has sat behind the “Late Show” desk for 21 years, announced his pending 2015 retirement on April 3. The long-tenured late night personality said he will step down next year, when his contract ends. He has been on late night television for more than three decades, a record that eclipses that of his idol, Johnny Carson.
Colbert’s hire may throw into question the status of Craig Ferguson, who anchors the late night program that appears immediately after Letterman. It also leaves Comedy Central, his current home, with a gap to fill in place of “The Colbert Report” at 11:30, Monday through Thursday.
“Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,” President and CEO of CBS Corporation Leslie Moonves said in the statement announcing the hire. “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.”
“Stephen is a multi-talented and respected host, writer, producer, satirist and comedian who blazes a trail of thought-provoking conversation, humor and innovation with everything he touches,” Nina Tassler, chairman of CBS Entertainment, added. “He is a presence on every stage, with interests and notable accomplishments across a wide spectrum of entertainment, politics, publishing and music. We welcome Stephen to CBS with great pride and excitement, and look forward to introducing him to our network television viewers in late night.”
Colbert had a few things to say about the deal himself, some sincere, some humorous.
“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” he commented. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”
Colbert’s Comedy Central show, “The Colbert Report,” has earned two Peabody Awards and 27 Emmy nominations, including an Emmy win for Outstanding Variety Series in 2013 and three Emmy wins for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program in 2008, 2010 and 2013.
Prior to that, Colbert spent eight years as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” as an on-air personality and writer of news satire for the Jon Stewart-hosted Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series.
In addition, Colbert has penned two books, “I Am America (and So Can You!)” and “America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t,” appearing on the New York Times best-seller list. “America Again” also won a Grammy Award for Spoken Word in 2014.
Colbert won another Grammy — this one for Best Comedy Album in 2009 — for original holiday musical special on Comedy Central, “A Colbert Christmas. It also earned Emmy nominations for Art Direction, Picture Editing and Original Music and Lyrics. In April 2011, Colbert starred as Harry in the New York Philharmonic presentation of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.”
Colbert has appeared on series such as HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”
He was also a cast member and writer on ABC’s “The Dana Carvey Show,” wrote for “Saturday Night Live” and voiced roles in DreamWorks’ animated films “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” and “Monsters vs. Aliens.”