October 01, 2012 3:45pm PT by Erik Hayden
Stephen Colbert Chats With Oprah About the Cable Hosts Who Inspired His 'Report' Character
Stephen Colbert had to assure Oprah Winfrey that he wasn't in character during a chat with the talk show host that aired on Oprah's Next Chapter on Sunday night.
"This is just me right now. This is just Stephen Colbert, not Stephen Colbert," he helpfully explained to Oprah in a wide-ranging interview.
The Colbert Report host, who appeared on OWN in anticipation of the Tuesday release of his latest book, America Again, talked with Winfrey about the origins of his faux-conservative television persona.
Colbert traced the persona to three well-known cable news personalities: Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera and CNN's Anderson Cooper.
"[Bill] O'Reilly would be the biggest example [of the Colbert character's inspiration] because O'Reilly is the king," he told Oprah. "O'Reilly has been No. 1 in cable news for 15,000 weeks running or whatever."
"He's 'Papa Bear,' but there are a lot of other people sort of mixed in when we started," Colbert explained. "I wanted to be sort of as shiny and as new as Anderson Cooper, you know as ... the Silver Surfer of cable news, just shiny and kinda sexy."
"Also a little bit of Geraldo Rivera, because Geraldo has a real sense of mission. There's a real sense of Geraldo that every report he does is changing the direction of this great ship we call America," Colbert remarked.
"I like to say that he's well intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot," he joked about his Report character.
Colbert also spoke about his real-life Super PAC, which he says has already spent a "half a million" dollars, including on presidential advertising in South Carolina.
The "network called and said 'are you really forming a political action committee?'" Colbert recounted. "And I said 'I don't know, why do you need to know?' And they said 'because if you are that could be trouble' and I said 'well, then we're definitely doing it.'"