Stephen Colbert, James Corden Show Off New Studio Setups in Socially Distanced Late Night Returns

Stephen Colbert and James Corden-Split-Publicity-H 2020
Courtesy of CBS

In the CBS hosts' first in-studio appearances since March, viewers were offered tours of their new filming arrangements, including Corden's redesigned Television City stage and a replica of Colbert's studio office in the Ed Sullivan Theater building.

After months away, James Corden and Stephen Colbert both detailed their studio comebacks Monday in short bits offering viewers an inside look at the new normal of late night: socially distanced sets, no audiences and heightened safety precautions.

Corden featured the redesigned Late Late Show studio at Television City in Los Angeles in a two-minute skit that saw him facing off with multiple new protocols while gearing up for showtime. The host is seen doggedly navigating staff in masks, using hand-sanitizing stations and maintaining a six-foot distance between himself and his house band. However, the skit's biggest bit was the invisible barriers Corden now faces, with the host walking directly into several germ shields on his way to the set.

"It's still better than the garage, it's still better than the garage," Corden said after bumping into one shield.

Colbert's opening monologue featured significantly less action as the late night host detailed his new arrangement. Last week, CBS had declined to share the whereabouts of Colbert's filming location, but in the three-minute opening, viewers finally see Colbert's new digs. While the Late Show host is back in the Ed Sullivan Theater building, he's not onstage.

Instead, he's in a replica of his studio office located four floors below his real one. Colbert notes that his desk, bookshelves, framed photos, hometown map, Captain America shield and a desk calendar featuring the date of his last in-studio appearance in March are all present.

"In fact, this — this feels like Captain America," Colbert said. "You know, when Cap wakes up in the fake hospital they built to make him feel more at home?"

Monday night's shows were the first time Colbert and Corden had been back to their respective studios in around five months, with both forced to film remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With their studio return, guests will remain virtual and on-set crews will be smaller.

Colbert and Corden followed in the footsteps of fellow late night hosts Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon, who pivoted from at-home taping to socially distanced studio filming several weeks ago.