That was fast. CBS announced this morning, after a week's worth of speculation, that Stephen Colbert will indeed take over for David Letterman when the host of The Late Show retires next year. According to an official announcement Colbert has a new five-year deal with CBS.
"I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead," Colbert said in a statement via Entertainment Weekly. "I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth." EW's James Hibberd reported that Colbert is taking the staff of his current gig, The Colbert Report, to CBS.
Talk had started to revolve around Colbert almost immediately after Letterman made his announcement that week. Mashable's Josh Dickey reported last week that Colbert was the top choice and that the comedian, who plays a over-the-top conservative pundit on his Comedy Central show, would drop his character. In a story published at Vulture today Jon Stewart, another potential replacement (who also executive produces Colbert's show), said that Colbert would be "remarkable" in the job. "He’s done an amazing job with just that very narrow cast of character, but he’s got a lot more he can show," Stewart said. Michael Ian Black basically got it right on Twitter: "Congratulations to Stephen Colbert the person and condolences to Stephen Colbert the character." (Update: Colbert has himself confirmed that he will not be playing the character "Stephen Colbert" on The Late Show.)
And while the choice of a daring, interesting comedian like Colbert is being applauded, the announcement was a blow to those who might have hoped that Letterman's departure could yield a more diverse landscape at 11:35 p.m.