CBS Late Show Suffers Record Low Ratings
The gloves are coming off at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The CBS show is hitting record low ratings, and there is also a change in management at the Ed Sullivan theatre. For producers trying to turn around the fast receding tide of ratings on Colbert’s show, it seems that now anything goes – and this edgy, risky strategy might be getting Colbert into some hot water. Colbert has seen a recent blip up in ratings during the Republican and Democratic conferences, but the day following the last conference his numbers fell back below the a 0.38 rating among total viewers with a nightly average of 2.054 million, which is a poor turnout for a network TV show, that can barely afford to keep the lights on with those ratings. Colbert wants to hitch his show to politics, and the US Presidential race, for the next 100 days, which could give him the much needed life support, but TV critics agree that his show is just not funny. The new late night wars are long over, and Colbert’s Late Show lost…. badly. The show is now fighting for survival. David Letterman would be turning over in his grave, if he wasn’t still alive drinking Mojitos in St Barts. CBS should consider replacing the Late Show with infomercials, which get similar ratings in the same time slot with no production cost. Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel’s Live show have trounced Colbert’s Late Show in pretty much all the demographic splits. Colbert’s show is therefore stuck on life-support, with the TV doctors doing anything they can to turn it around, but all their actions may just be indicative of the ultimate death throes of the show, kicking and screaming before the funeral pyre.
In an attempt to turn around its flagging ratings, The Late Show has been making various changes including the apparent disappearance of the off-limits unspoken media rule of not attacking politicians’ families. A recent mean-spirited faux statement skit on the show, in which Colbert announced that Melania Trump would be making a statement about the fallout from her recent speech at the RNC, hilariously skewered Melania Trump. Trump was played by Broadway actress/singer Laura Benanti, and the skit poked fun at Trump’s recent Republican Conference speech in which she plagiarized some lines of her speech from Michelle Obama’s speech from 2008. The writing, production, and approval of the skit on Colbert’s show set a new low standard for late-night TV, which seems to now allow anyone famous to have their innocent family members attacked in the media (or by a late night host in this case), even though they may, or may not be, normally in the public eye. Colbert’s only justification for his personal attack on Melania Trump is that she gave a speech at the Republican National Conference and plagiarized some of the sentences in her upbeat, life affirming speech. Melania is an amateur at public speaking and she said nothing in her speech of a political nature, but Colbert showed her no quarter and relentlessly ridiculed her on his show, so much so that Melania Trump may never do another public speaking engagement again, which could have been Colberts cynical intention all along. The fallout of Colberts attack on Melania Trump has now stretched to Melania’s website, which she has taken down – she clearly doesn’t want to be beaten up anymore and we cant blame her. It appears that Colbert thinks that her actions of speaking at the RNC conference officially opens her up to media attack and ridicule, but Colbert may also cynically be hoping that this attack, and his coverage, will bring back his lost TV show ratings. It is unclear if viewers can expect to see Colbert to begin attacking Donald Trump’s young son, the 10 year-old Barron Trump, who also spoke at the end of the conference, while popping the balloons with other children. Colbert also hasn’t announced plans yet to ridicule his own wife, Evelyn “Evie” McGee-Colbert, any time soon, because I am sure she has said some stupid things in the past, including “I do” at their wedding ceremony. Attacks on innocent celebrity family members are nothing new; former Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin had her family maliciously attacked by the media when her daughter, a young Bristol Palin, became pregnant out of wedlock. It seems that these “off-limits” standards in media often only apply to Democrats, with the media giving wide berth to all the dark family secrets of the Obamas, the Clintons, and the Gores, but attacking with gusto any innocent family relatives of conservative politicians. This hypocrisy continues in the mainstream media and has now moved into late night fare. Colbert just squandered his right to ask for family privacy the next time something bad happens to someone close to him, but this isn’t the first time that Stephen Colbert has squandered something, and it probably won’t be the last.
Colbert is also facing flak over his use of his famous “Colbert” character that he created on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. To boost the funny in his new flagging CBS show, Colbert keeps bringing in the former character, but this brings up a huge issue of intellectual property rights to the character. The “Colbert” character was essentially created on Comedy Central’s dime, and lawyers for both Viacom and CBS have agreed that the character is not owned by Colbert or CBS, and he cannot use it on his new show on CBS. Colbert has tried to step around this issue by slightly changing the name of any characters or skits that he developed from his time at Comedy Central. A popular section on his previous show was “The Word,” which is now called “The Werd” on his new CBS show. The Colbert Character was also introduced on his CBS show as his identical cousin “Stefan Colbert,” but this did not wash well with lawyers from Comedy Central’s owner, Viacom; various legal missives flew down Seventh Avenue stop this practice.
Colbert is desperate for audience as the CBS executives are getting frustrated at his lack of ratings success, even though they provided some great lead-ins for his show, including the massive ratings juggernaut of the 2016 Super Bowl that aired February 7, 2016. Colbert squandered this opportunity with a disappointing production, which shows he is just not funny without his Comedy Central characters. CBS may now be regretting their choice for David Letterman’s replacement; it is only a matter of time before they replace Colbert with a new host who can bring back the ratings the network expects in this time slot – because without them, they cannot sell advertising, and no one gets paid.
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