CBS has just announced that David Letterman is retiring from their flagship show, and they're bringing in the big guns, in the form of Mr. Stephen Colbert.
Wall Street Journal reported:
"CBS said in a news release that it had signed a five-year agreement with Mr. Colbert to take over its flagship show when Mr. Letterman retires next year.
Mr. Colbert, 49 years old, will retire the character he plays on his Comedy Central show—a sendup of Republican talk-show hosts—and will be himself as the host of the CBS show, the company said."
This is just a little weird to me. Not the choice to put Colbert in, that's a stroke of brilliance on CBS's part. But this means a couple of things:
First of all, Letterman retiring from The Late Show means the end of an era. Now, I was never a huge fan of Letterman anyway, but this is huge. Several generations of people have seen David Letterman as a regular part of their lives. How many times have you heard about "staying up to watch Letterman?" his show has been a cultural touchstone, as well as being a jumping-off point for everyone from Conan to Leno to Fallon.
But what's more, this means the end of The Colbert Report, which also signifies the end of an era. I've been laughing at the Report since I was ten (granted, I didn't get all of the references and such, but still I laughed at what I could). Colbert and the legendary image that he has cultivated became a regular part of my life, and it's going to be weird to see him stripped of that image and see some part of the real Stephen Colbert up there hosting The Late Show.
I don't want to see The Colbert Report end. That's the most unfortunate truth about all of this. Because Colbert is taking over The Late Show, the persona will be retiring as well, and that means that the genius satire of American news networks will have to be left to Jon Stewart.
This is television though. This is what American television is. It's the passing of the torch, from the legend of one generation to the legend of another. It's exciting, it's a little unsettling, and it makes me eager for the finished product.