Stephen Colbert Gets Letterman Slot, Jon Stewart Ponders Future

Jon Stewart’s Contract is Up at the End of the Year

jon stewartJon Stewart has hosted The Daily Show on Comedy Central since 1999. This half-hour long late night satirical television show premiered in 1996 under the helm of Craig Kilborn, but it quickly became Stewart’s domain, and he has steered the ship ever since. It is a self-described fake news program, covering politics and the national media. The second longest running show on the network, The Daily Show has won 18 Primetime Emmy Awards. In a recent interview in The Hollywood Reporter, Stewart remarked that, like with anything if you do it long enough, there are aspects that come to feel like a grind. With Stephen Colbert recently promoted to the slot held by David Letterman in the CBS program The Late Show, it is clear that the talk show royalty is undergoing a transition. With Stewart’s contract up at the end of the year, he is pondering a transition as well. After all, Stewart was one of the major contenders to host The Late Show, and with Colbert securely in that role for years to come, he is looking to other avenues for his creative and professional outlets.

Jon Stewart’s Film Directorial Career

In June 2013, Stewart took a twelve week hiatus from hosting The Daily Show in order to direct a feature film called Rosewater. The film,rosewater which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and was shopped around to distributors at the Toronto Film Festival this past September, is a drama about a journalist who ended up imprisoned in Iran for four months. The shoot took place in Amman, Jordan, and difficulties were encountered such as an overlap with the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, as well as the given long days and rigorous work schedule facing any feature film, as opposed to cable television. Stewart has inevitably faced a great deal of criticism for taking on such a controversial topic, and yet he has also encountered a lot of appreciation from his fans, who are happy to see him branch out into other realms of entertainment. In this light, it will be interesting to watch how Stewart’s career unfolds in upcoming years. Will he allow his contract to expire without renewing? Will he continue on this new track of directing feature films?

Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”

Whether it happens at the end of this year or not, it is unclear who will eventually take over Stewart’s throne on The Daily Show. Still, other changes are happening at the network. They just added two new writers: Hasan Minhaj and Trevor Noah. Minjah will replace the seat recently vacated by Michael Che as correspondent, and Noah will be a contributing writer starting this December. Like always, the show is staying fresh with new comedic voices, while Stewart sits comfortably in the pilot’s seat. Interestingly, the captivated audience of Daily Show fans often considers the show their primary news source, despite the fact that Stewart goes out of his way to make the show satirical. In spite of this, Stewart does have real news underneath the layers of satire. He co-authored several books including the 2004 bestselling America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction, which also dug its teeth into real issues underneath the jokes. In any case, Stewart is undeniably a pop culture icon in and of himself, independent of his role on The Daily Show, as proven when he hosted the Academy Awards in 2006 and 2008.

CBS Colberts Late Show Being Tempted By California

Will The Late Show Stay in New York?

On July 23, 2014, CBS announced that when Stephen Colbert takes over David Letterman’s longtime seat as host of The Late Show, the show will continue to be filmed at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio used social media to express his support of Colbert’s remaining in New York, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an official statement calling for Colbert staying in New York. Citing the reason that Colbert himself is New York based, Cuomo urged CBS President and CEO Les Moonves to continue the tradition of producing the show in the Ed Sullivan Theater. After all, The Late Show has long been a major source of revenue for the city and the state, as tourists flock to midtown and purchase tickets to sit in the audience of the show. However, several other locations made pleas for the show to move. Among these are New Orleans, Connecticut, and Los Angeles.

late show ed sullivan theaterLos Angeles Makes a Plea

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti publically plead for the show to move to Los Angeles, and California Assemblyman Mike Gatto even announced that he, along with Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, would consider revising legislation to expand the tax incentives, specifically to lure The Tonight Show among other TV shows that would benefit from such a revision. In particular, the new law would offer the benefits to non-scripted shows that are offered to scripted shows, which gives a 25% incentive when the show relocates to California from other states. Other talk shows that are produced in Los Angeles include those led by hosts Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, and Conan O’Brien. Still, a revised law might very well persuade more to follow suit. In February, Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show is taking a brief trip February 2-5, 2015 following their trip to Phoenix for the Super Bowl telecast. This marks The Tonight Show’s first stint out west since it moved back to New York City’s Rockefeller Center earlier this year.

colbert lettermanThe Late Show

The Late Show first aired in 1993 with David Letterman and its presenter and host. Letterman’s extensive career also included his role as the host of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC from 1982 to 1993. CBS’ The Late Show airs generally from 11:35pm to 12:37am, both Eastern and Pacific time. When it was announced in July that Colbert would take over Letterman’s seat, this marks the first time another host has led this show, and it will keep its same name rather than hanging to suit the new personality. Stephen Colbert, for his part, has long had a show on Comedy Central called The Colbert Report in which he plays a character. It has been announced that Colbert will leave his persona behind when he takes over Letterman’s job, instead playing it much more straight. It was also declared that the show would remain in New York City’s Ed Sullivan Theater. Despite Los Angeles’ attempts to revise its legislation in order to woo the show to the West Coast, New York stepped up to the challenge. First of all, CBS paid over $40,000 in campaign contributions to Andrew Cuomo in order for him to keep tax breaks in New York City. And it appears to have paid off, as a deal was made official on July 23, 2014 – including $16,000,000 in tax incentives over a period of five years. It therefore appears The Late Show will remain in New York City for the foreseeable future.

Stephen Colbert Takes Over Letterman in 2015

Exactly one week after David Letterman announced his retirement from The Late Show, a position he has held since 1993, CBS announced that his successor would be Stephen Colbert.  Colbert, who is now 49, has signed a 5 year agreement with CBS.  His premiere date is presently unclear, but it will likely be sometime in the first months of 2015.  The show will continue to be filmed in New York’s Ed Sullivan Theater.

stephen colbert late show david letterman cbs emmysColbert rose to prominence over the course of his comedy television career, and since 2005 he has hosted his own Comedy Central series The Colbert Report.  Where many had postulated that Letterman would be succeeded by others including Craig Ferguson, Ellen Degeneres, or Neil Patrick Harris, the consensus seems to be generally pleased with the network’s decision to select Colbert.  In fact, Colbert is so popular that the largest complaint from the public is bemoaning the loss of The Colbert Report, which is a show very different in tone and style than The Late Show has historically been.  Whereas The Late Show is a late-night talk show consisting of a standard monologue, guest interviews, and live musical performance, The Colbert Report stands out for its satirical tone, most notably due to Colbert’s adoption of an alter-ego persona for the duration of the tapings.

Colbert first began to develop his now-famous onscreen persona in 1996 when he appeared in seven episodes of ABC’s prime time sketch comedy show The Dana Carvey Show, honing his character of a deadpan anchor delivering the news.  From 1997 to 2005, Colbert was a regular correspondent on The Daily Show, which has been hosted by Jon Stewart since 1999.  Throughout this period, he developed his character into a blatantly ignorant correspondent, who is unaware of his own lack of knowledge on the subjects he discusses.  In this way, Colbert was able to strike a genius balance between mockery and deliverance of his true opinion, guarded by the shield of comedy.

With the inception of The Colbert Report in 2005, Colbert became notorious for this alternate persona, leading him to great fame including two Peabody Awards and 27 Emmy nominations, as well as the 2013 Emmy Award for outstanding variety series, among other wins.  He also authored several books in this character, including I Am America (And So Can You!) in 2007, and America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t in 2012.  With the announcement of Colbert’s assumption of Letterman’s position at The Late Show, it became clear that this meant the end of The Colbert Report, and many of the show’s over one million nightly viewers were less than pleased.

It is now clear that Colbert will officially retire his persona along with his Comedy Central series, and that he will adopt a more genuine voice as the host of The Late Show.  Many Colbert Report devotees will need to choose whether they maintain their devotion to the man behind the character, even when he is out of character.  As The Colbert Report offers a news alternative that is truly irreverent, Colbert will now need to finesse his new onscreen presence to satisfy The Late Show viewership along
with his longtime fans.

On this past Tuesday night, April 22, 2014, Stephen Colbert paid a visit to David Letterman as a guest on The Late Show.  Letterman welcomed him very good naturedly, and Colbert appeared in black-rimmed glasses that made it clear his persona was nowhere to be seen.  Unlike when Jay Leno was chosen to succeed Johnny Carson as host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, despite Carson’s clear preference of Letterman, this appears to be a case where the host is happily passing the mantle to his chosen successor.  To demonstrate just how supportive he is, Letterman and Colbert even took a selfie.

 

David Letterman and Steven Colbert Take Selfie