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Stephen Colbert opened Thursday’s Colbert Report by addressing his upcoming move to Late Night.
“I do not envy whoever they try to put in that chair,” he joked. “Folks, those are some huge shoes to fill — and some really big pants.” (David Letterman‘s production company, Worldwide Pants, currently produces and owns Late Show, though CBS will take over when Colbert does.)
“Dave has been on the air my entire adult life. Late Night debuted my first night in college,” Colbert added. “I learned more from watching Dave than going to my classes, especially the ones I did not go to because I stayed up till 1:30 watching Dave.”
He also joked that Letterman has been so prominent in his late-night role that he’s influenced hosts who came after him — and even a few that came before him.
Earlier Thursday, CBS announced that it had inked a five-year deal with Colbert to replace Letterman in 2015. The move, which will entail Colbert dropping his on-air persona when he makes the shift to broadcast, was met with a universally positive response from the media.
The news comes just a week after Letterman announced that after more than 20 years he’d be retiring from the network’s Late Show at the end of his current contract. He and his long-time network have not yet revealed when in 2015 his final show will air.
Although there were many names bandied about as possible replacements, Colbert’s quickly shot to the top of the list, both internally and externally. “We talked about a lot of people and his name stood way above everybody else’s,” CBS entertainment chairman Nina Tassler told THR. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. It’s a big, big seat to fill, and he is the perfect choice to honor Dave’s legacy.”
The move is expected to lure in a younger audience to the late-night time slot, as Colbert has had a solid showing of adults under 50 during his eight years as host of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. He will be competing in an increasingly tight broadcast race between other younger-skewing hosts, Jimmy Fallon (NBC) and Jimmy Kimmel (ABC).
The location, producers and premiere date of the new Late Show have yet to be revealed. What is clear: Late Show name will remain, though Worldwide Pants will hand over the reigns to CBS when Colbert takes over.
Late Show airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.
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