Update: Right after this story was published, Comedy Central issued a statement confirming that the 'The Colbert Report' will end in eight months, placing the final episode somewhere in December.
Just one week ago, David Letterman made the sudden announcement that he would be retiring from 'The Late Show' in 2015, after two decades on the air. While Letterman's decision was not entirely unexpected (rumors of Letterman's departure have followed the now 66-year-old comedian for several years), many viewers were still taken aback by the "out of nowhere" nature of the announcement.
Of course, Dave's decree led directly to another topic, that being just who would replace the longest serving late night host in TV history. The obvious choice seemed to be Craig Ferguson, who's served as Letterman's 12:30 lead-out since 2005.
However, reports quickly surfaced that Comedy Central funnyman Stephen Colbert was CBS' top pick for the 11:30 slot. At the time, both sides declined comment, but it's now apparent that was only due to them still crossing the T's and dotting the I's on the contract. Today, CBS made things official: Stephen Colbert will be the new host of 'The Late Show.'
Colbert has signed a five-year deal with CBS, meaning he will (theoretically, we all remember what happened to Conan O'Brien) get five years to win over the 11:30 audience. While 'The Colbert Report' does indeed already air in that timeslot, the difference between the current 'Late Show' audience and Comedy Central's much younger demographic cannot be overstated.
Colbert will likely have to adjust his comedy style greatly on broadcast television, and be much less cerebral and politically focused. His guests will also likely go from being mostly politicians, authors, and scientists to whoever is starring in the latest Hollywood blockbuster. That leads us to another important question: Will the notoriously loyal 'Colbert Nation' follow Stephen to CBS, a place where he'll no longer be able to form satirical SuperPacs or spend an entire segment "better knowing" a district?
One also has to wonder where this leaves Ferguson, especially considering the recent rumors that Chelsea Handler was being courted to take over 'The Late Late Show' once her E! program wraps up. Ferguson has made no overt mention of wanting to step down from late night completely, meaning that CBS would have to publicly force him out after almost a decade of service. If nothing else, it's clear that the late night landscape is about to get even more interesting.