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To the surprise of nearly everyone watching Tuesday’s inaugural telecast of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the recently-retired Daily Show host was listed with an executive producer credit at the end of the episode — after he made a quick cameo in the opening sequence.
Stewart, who co-created Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report with Colbert and Ben Karlin, previously served as one of Colbert’s executive producers — though he had little day-to-day involvement in the Daily Show spinoff. He was not among the executive producers announced earlier in August when Colbert solidified his team, one almost exclusively comprised of former Colbert Report staff.
It’s not immediately clear what level of involvement Stewart will have in The Late Show, but his title largely was kept under wraps until Tuesday morning — and many involved with the show didn’t hear the news until Tuesday’s production meeting.
And Stewart was not the only unexpected participant in the first episode. Colbert garnered laughs and raised eyebrows on Twitter when he said he’d made “certain regrettable compromises” to get his gig — and those include promoting Sabra Hummus to appease a cursed amulet that started groaning at the end of his monologue. Colbert was not kidding about his compulsion to plug Sabra. The brand, likely looking for a PR boost after listeria contamination concerns prompted a massive recall earlier in 2015, paid for its prominent place near the top of the episode.
As the host implied, and a “promotional consideration” tag at the end confirmed, Sabra was in on the joke. The company even put out a tweet during the telecast mocking the bit. One source say that Colbert plans on being playful with marketing partners — and, if Tuesday was any indication, quite transparent as well.
Not all foodstuffs that made an appearance at Colbert’s desk were sponsors. Oreo, which the host furiously housed in one of several efforts to mock Donald Trump, benefited from some free publicity. Colbert’s decision to include the cookie was said to be in service of topical humor — not advertisers.
Colbert, who debuted to strong ratings (double that of Jimmy Fallon‘s Tonight on Tuesday), takes his second swing Wednesday night with guests Scarlett Johansson, Elon Musk and Kendrick Lamar.
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