Larry Wilmore’s “Nightly Show” has been canceled by Comedy Central after 18 months of relevant and important but low-rated shows.
Roughly 100 staff and crew for the “Colbert Report” replacement were given the news Monday morning.
“It is really sad for us because we not only respect and value Larry, we really have such affection for him and what he’s been doing,” Comedy Central President Kent Alterman told TheWrap. “Unfortunately, it hasn’t been translating to our audience.”
Added Wilmore, in a statement: “I’m really grateful to Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, and our fans to have had this opportunity. … But I’m also saddened and surprised we won’t be covering this crazy election or ‘The Unblackening’ as we’ve coined it. And keeping it 100, I guess I hadn’t counted on ‘The Unblackening’ happening to my time slot as well.”
Wilmore’s final “Nightly Show” will air Thursday at 11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.
“Larry could not have been more of a gentleman and exhibited more graciousness,” Alterman said.
Alterman’s interim plan is for Comedy Central to switch Chris Hardwick’s “@midnight” to from midnight to 11:30 p.m. (And no, the show’s name won’t change to “@eleventhirty,” but Alterman did admit, “It’s possible that ‘@midnight’ evolves a bit accordingly.”)
Alterman also said he would be surprised if Wilmore were surprised by the news because of ongoing discussions about the show not getting enough viewers, engagement, or social shares.
Wilmore is a “Daily Show” alum, the former showrunner of the hit ABC sitcom “Black-ish” and now the executive producer of the HBO series “Insecure.”
He’s also known for being one of the smartest and nicest guys in comedy — so what went wrong?
The answer is “nuanced and complex,” Alterman said, and isn’t an indication that his show failed to cross racial lines.
“I don’t think it’s about the racial point-of-view or the minority voice point-of-view,” he said. “At 11 o’clock we have an African named Trevor Noah who does a lot of that, and it is really resonating.”
He said “The Nightly Show” just didn’t have enough “traction” to justify another year, and a bunch of looming contract renewals — including Larry’s — were coming up.
So, no, Alternan explained, this had nothing to do with Wilmore’s controversial White House Correspondence Dinner performance, nor was the timing tied to any electoral process.
“@Midnight” will be followed at midnight by a primetime rerun.
Meanwhile, Comedy Central plans to “aggressively develop late-night,” Alterman said.
As for the channel’s future relationship with Wilmore, there is nothing in development, but Alterman called it a “one step at a time” process.
“We’ll be happy to sit down with him afterward, of course,” Alterman said.