Late-night churn: The ‘real’ Colbert will follow Letterman

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When David Letterman announced that 2015 would be his final year hosting his long-running CBS late-night television show, it signaled not just the end of Stupid Pet Tricks and the other bits that his fans have come to love. It meant the end of an era.

With Mr. Letterman’s coming retirement and Jay Leno exiting his perch at NBC’s “The Tonight Show” earlier this year, there’s little doubt that late-night TV is in the throes of a realignment of viewer tastes. Jimmy Fallon inherited Mr. Leno’s coveted slot on NBC and has continued his predecessor’s dominance in the ratings. Now every network wants a versatile performer in that hour.

CBS announced Thursday that it would replace Mr. Letterman with Comedy Central’s bombastic faux conservative, Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report.” Like Mr. Fallon, Mr. Colbert is a natural performer who will bring fresh energy and possibility to a show that has grown stale. Mr. Colbert will also abandon the popular character he’s played for nearly a decade when he takes over next year, so late-night viewers will finally meet the “real” Stephen Colbert.

Conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh is fuming that a “fake” conservative will get the prestigious spot instead of a real right-of-center comedian like Greg Gutfield or Dennis Miller. Mr. Limbaugh was so angry at the choice of Mr. Colbert that he called it an “attack on the heartland.” Right-wingers on social media have also been harsh.

But if Limbaugh & Co. are looking for true diversity, they’ve missed the boat. When is someone other than a white male going to be fit to hire for 11:30? Tina Fey. Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Now that would be real late-night choice.


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