Update: Looks like speculation was correct this time, and fast! Colbert has accepted a 5-year contract with CBS since my original post a week ago.
In response, Colbert has said, “Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” Colbert said. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead. I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”
My original speculation can be seen below.
Letterman has announced he’ll be retiring from the Late Show in 2015, and prime candidates are Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, though Colbert is rumored by those closest to the situation to be the front-and-center replacement. Conversations were had well before Letterman broke the news, but no official contract or offer has been made.
In the end, it may boil down to money and the task. Colbert is a huge fan of Letterman, but it seems probable Colbert may be turned off by interviewing solely for the sake of movie plugs every night. The pay rate, if it’s an improvement, wouldn’t be much. After all, Colbert has won Emmy awards for his program.
Other people in talks are Neil Patrick Harris and Craig Ferguson, but both Comedy Central and CBS refuse to comment at this point.