Despite New Faces, 2016 Candidates Still Flocking to Late Night

7 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

As Stephen Colbert debuts on ‘Late Show,’ late-night TV wars heat up.

will make his network debut at the new host of CBS’s The Late Show on Tuesday, replacing David Letterman who retired from the show in May after 22 years. Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, joins a growing cast of politicians scheduled to appear on “The Late Show” on CBS as Colbert takes over hosting duties starting Tuesday. Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush will be on the inaugural episode, and Vice President Joe Biden, who is mulling a White House run, is booked on Thursday. “I’m sure that Colbert will have a large viewing audience, and I think it’s a good thing to be seen by people outside of the normal political context,” Sanders said in an interview.

But it will also open up a new front in the decades-long battle for supremacy in a format that has undergone changes more fundamental than the names on the marquee. The senator, who turns 74 on Tuesday, appeared several times on Colbert’s Comedy Central show, “The Colbert Report,” including last November, as Sanders was mulling a presidential bid. “Do you frighten people when you walk around the Capitol?” Colbert asked. “Are they afraid you’re going to take their tractor and given it to the whole village?” Colbert is moving from the comfortable niche of cable television, where he spent nine years hosting Comedy Central’s satirical “The Colbert Report,” to CBS, the most-watched and arguably most traditional of the legacy broadcasters. At home in Montclair, New Jersey, “Stephen and his family are very happily entrenched,” a neighborhood source says of Colbert, his wife Evelyn and their three kids Madeleine, Peter and John. “You can always see him with his family. His devoted fans — members of the so-called Colbert Nation — and his detractors are wondering whether his surrealist brand of humor and political point of view will translate to a more mainstream platform.

Family and community have always been important to him.” When Colbert was just 10 years old, he lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash. “I’m not angry, I’m not,” Colbert told GQ. “I learned to love it … I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.” Says the neighborhood source, “Most Sundays the Colberts are at church, usually sitting right up front. He’s also entering a late-night landscape that would have been virtually unrecognizable a decade ago; YouTube views are nearly as important as Nielsen ratings, and audiences face an ever-increasing array of options from cable networks and streaming outlets. When the kids were younger, he taught Confraternity of Christian Doctorine classes there.” Colbert and his wife helped launch the Montclair Film Festival, now in its fourth year. “In 2012 he participated in The Little Read, an annual community event,” says the source. “He read his own kids book, I Am a Pole (and So Can You!), and had the kids as rapt and entertained as his Colbert Report audiences.” “Stephen’s a joy to work with,” Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless told PEOPLE last year. “He’s a creative genius and a gentleman and a scholar. In the days leading up to the debut of the new “Late Show” on Tuesday, no topic has been more thoroughly dissected than Colbert’s late-night identity.

Here are some telling nuggets: Colbert felt smothered by the need to act like “Stephen Colbert” during the final seasons of his old show: He got frustrated by constantly translating everything through his character’s faux ignorance. “My show was almost always an argument with someone who wasn’t there,” he told the New York Times. “I had to be karate-yes or karate-no. When the iconic ice cream company partnered with Colbert for the AmeriCone Dream flavor (which was so popular at one point, it outsold their biggest flavor Cherry Garcia), “Stephen donated all of his proceeds, over $1 million dollars, to address environmental issues, assist veterans and support children’s issues.” I couldn’t be karate-maybe on anything. … The story is either ‘transformative president’ or ‘subversive president,’ but that nails you in the same direction, emotionally. Everything was channeled through the president.” But while he’s dropping the mask, he still plans to talk plenty about politics. “It’s combed into our DNA after the last 10 years,” he told TV critics. McClennen, author of “Colbert’s America: Satire and Democracy.” McClennen points to videos released online this summer, in which Colbert gleefully mocked reality star turned Republican candidate Donald Trump and cheered the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.

We’re going to want to be talking about what’s going on in the world.” (Watch the 11-minute package here.) Colbert’s early guests suggest he will book lots of political types: Besides Jeb tomorrow, he has Joe Biden on Thursday, Justice Stephen Breyer next Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon next Thursday and then Bernie Sanders next Friday. Dick Cavett, whose ABC talk show was a destination for political conversation during the Watergate era, said, “The Colbert wit will be extremely welcome during the election.” Indeed, Colbert would seem to have the edge over Fallon and Kimmel when it comes to campaign coverage. At the CBS upfronts presentation in May, he declared he won’t steer clear of controvers. “We will do the best show we possibly can and occasionally make the network very angry at us,” he said. For those worried Colbert would go the lip-synching route, that probably won’t be the case given his inclusion of guests like United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Two high-powered tech CEOs will also make an appearance: Both Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk and Uber’s Travis Kalanick are slated to sit on the couch this week.

It will differentiate him from others in the 11:30 timeslot just as 2016 is heating up. “Frankly, that’s not what Fallon or Kimmel does, particularly,” Moonves told Dave Itzkoff. Both could yield fascinating conversations, and Colbert doesn’t seem like the type to ignore Tesla controversies or Uber’s recent slew of bad press. With a background in improv — he studied at Chicago’s famed Second City — the 51-year-old host is unusually quick on his feet. “He’s obviously very intelligent, which gives him a leg up on most of these guys,” said Robert Morton, a former executive producer for David Letterman at “Late Night” and “Late Show.” He compared Colbert to Jack Paar, the “Tonight Show” host who interviewed the likes of Albert Schweitzer, Robert F. Colbert’s eclectic taste will help distinguish him from Fallon, whose fun house of a show skews toward lighthearted musical sketches and parlor games rather than topical humor or probing conversation.

But there’s also a danger in being too highbrow — the equivalent of “Charlie Rose” with more laughs — especially given that his rivals have had a long time to establish themselves creatively and to find an audience. Jon Stewart went off the airwaves last month, and his South African replacement isn’t that interested in U.S. politics or mocking Fox News, leaving a real vacuum. Just like on his old show, Colbert isn’t afraid of insulting politicians: He’s already publicly slammed Bush for using his “Late Show” appearance as a political fundraiser, raffling off a ticket to be in the audience. He’s retained Leno’s long-held ratings lead, reeling in an average of 3.5 million viewers a night this season, according to Nielsen, while infusing “Tonight” with a boyish exuberance that’s attracted more of the under-50 viewers prized by advertisers. “He has created the perfect ‘Tonight Show’ for this generation and the times,” said Macks, author of the book “Monologue: What Makes America Laugh Before Bed.” Fallon also has an invisible weapon in the form of executive producer Lorne Michaels, whose powerful fiefdom at NBC — he also presides over “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers” — might compel talent to opt for “Tonight” over “Late Show.” Fallon and Colbert may be friendly, having visited each other’s shows many times, but NBC is still doing everything it can to draw attention away from CBS’ new late-night star.

Of course Colbert has an impressive line-up of A-listers scheduled for the first two weeks: George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Kevin Spacey, Lupita Nyong’o and Carol Burnett along with this summer’s red-hot comedian Amy Schumer. In a major coup, “Tonight” has booked Trump for Friday night, marking the Republican front-runner’s first visit to a late-night show since announcing his presidential bid in June. He’s the opposite of most late-night hosts, who want everyone to have fun. “I just want to do things that scratch an itch for me,” he told GQ. “That itch is often something that feels wrong.

Videos of children melting down after their parents pretend to have eaten all the Halloween candy are an annual favorite, with the clips reliably racking up 50 million views on YouTube. David Letterman’s “Late Show” was frequently a love letter to New York City and it seems like Colbert could keep the same tradition: Colbert will interview Broadway’s “American in Paris” director Christopher Wheeldon, and stars Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope will both perform.

Cassian in Upper Montclair, N.J., from 2003 to 2005: He’d strum his guitar in class, stage games of Religious Jeopardy and brought Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for everyone. Case in point: A star-studded spoof of Daft Punk’s hit “Get Lucky,” which aired after a last-minute cancellation by the electronic music duo in 2013, or his takeover this summer of a Michigan public access show. The Post and Courier, highlighting Colbert’s ties to the state with the first Southern primary, describes him as “the most successful celebrity to come out of Charleston in modern times — likely ever.” Colbert flew down this June after the church shooting left nine dead, walking with thousands of community members across the Arthur Ravenel Bridge during the Bridge to Peace Unity Chain. “Colbert also returned to Charleston in 2013 to campaign for his sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, who ran for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District seat in a special election. Just this year, he donated $800,000 to fund nearly 1,000 projects at statewide schools.” — President Obama is poised to sign an executive order in Boston requiring federal contractors to offer employees up to seven paid sick days a year, a move that could benefit more than 300,000 workers.

The announcement will come momentarily during a Labor Day speech in Boston, part of an effort to push Congress to approve legislation that would provide similar benefits for millions of private sector workers. “The president’s trip aims to highlight a Massachusetts law, approved by voters in November, that provides employees with up to 40 hours of sick leave per year,” David Nakamura reports. “An estimated 44 million private sector workers — about 40 percent of the workforce — do not have access to paid sick leave, according to the White House.” Pope Francis called on “every” parish, religious community, monastery and sanctuary in Europe to take in one refugee family — an appeal that, if honored, would offer shelter to tens of thousands. (Anthony Faiola and Michael Birnbaum) It is not just Syrians any more. Germany’s welcome of refugees has encouraged and emboldened people in other violent and impoverished countries, namely Iraq, to try the perilous sea crossing to Greece. (Liz Sly reports from Turkey) Lawyers for Kentucky clerk Kim Davis have filed an appeal challenging a judge finding her in contempt for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. (Courier-Journal) In Las Vegas, a man is in custody after allegedly walking up to a police SUV as it sat at a stoplight and shooting at a pair of officers with a semi-automatic handgun.

Washington state’s charter school law, which narrowly passed in a 2012 referendum with financial support from Bill Gates, has been struck down as unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court. Army has launched an investigation after an annual pillow fight among students at West Point led to injuries ranging from broken bones to concussions. Twenty-four cadets were diagnosed with concussions, and other injuries included a broken nose, a dislocated shoulder and a hairline fracture to the cheekbone of one of the concussed cadets, Army officials said in a statement. (Dan Lamothe) Hillary Clinton and her family personally paid a State Department staffer to maintain the private e-mail server she used while heading the agency, an unusual arrangement that allowed her to retain control.

She called it the most difficult decision she’s made in politics. “There’s nothing more important to me as a Jew than to ensure that Israel’s existence is there throughout our generations,” she said. Here’s the calculus of each camp: Clinton cannot afford to alienate impassioned Sanders supporters; should she win the Democratic nomination, she will need their votes and enthusiasm in the general election. If the race is still tight closer to the caucuses, she can always run blistering attack ads. — “An American family saved their son from joining the Islamic State. He was a magnet for a long line of Republicans eager to be associated with him and his powerful family, including a Cuban immigrant and former corrections officer named Tony Campos…But Mr. Ultimately he would try to exploit those relationships, entangling Jeb Bush, by then the governor of Florida, in a case of misplaced trust and the theft of public funds.” — Des Moines Register: “The labor vote is still lucrative in Iowa,” by Grant Rodgers: The “influence wielded by unions comes despite declines in the number of Iowa workers who belong to a union.

For instance, all of the Democratic candidates have championed a minimum wage increase in some form.” — Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “Walter Palmer speaks: Hunter who killed [Cecil the lion] will resume Bloomington dental practice Tuesday,” by Paul Walsh: “Palmer declined to address whether he would abide by any request, either informal or through extradition proceedings, to return to Zimbabwe to answer legal allegations. ‘I have a lot of staff members, and I’m a little heartbroken at the disruption in their lives,’ said the casually dressed Palmer, calm and all business, during the back and forth as attorney Joe Friedberg and a public relations consultant flanked him in what the dentist said would be his only media availability. ‘And I’m a health professional. That’s why I’m back’…Palmer added: ‘This has been especially hard on my wife and my daughter,’ he said…’They’ve been threatened in the social media, and again … I don’t understand that level of humanity to come after people not involved at all.’ — Los Angeles Times, “U.S. builds up Arctic spy network as Russia and China increase presence,” by Brian Bennett and W.J. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently convened a “strategy board” to bring the analysts together to share their findings…The growing focus shows how the United States and other polar powers are adjusting as global warming opens new sea lanes and sets off a scramble for largely untapped reserves of oil, natural gas and minerals. The message roughly translated to: ‘Satisfied here, you already know with whom’…The location of the tweet was marked as “Costa Rica,” which could mean the country or the village of Costa Rica, Culiacan.

From the Associated Press: “An anchor for Fox News is suing Hasbro for more than $5 million over a toy hamster that shares her name — and possibly even her resemblance. Harris Faulkner sued Hasbro this week over its plastic Harris Faulkner hamster, sold as part of the Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based company’s popular Littlest Pet Shop line. She says the toy wrongfully appropriates her name and persona, harms her professional credibility as a journalist and is an insult.” –What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Hillary Clinton stops by labor events in Cedar Rapids, Hampton and Burlington, Iowa. In South Carolina, Marco Rubio attends a town hall meeting in North Charleston while Rick Santorum participates in the Chapin Labor Day Parade. –At the White House: President Obama travels to Boston to deliver remarks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast. — The Affordable Care Act isn’t all that affordable, continued…: In a Friday news dump from the state Insurance Commissioner, we learned that the price of the most popular health plans sold through Maryland’s insurance exchange will jump, on average, by about one quarter next year. “The 26 percent average increase in monthly premiums are for CareFirst plans, which cover three-fourths of the state residents who have bought insurance under the federal health-care law,” Amy Goldstein reports.

Williams (R-Broad Run) resigned yesterday, hours after being charged with assaulting a neighbor in the latest in a string of legal run-ins for the politician. He was charged with simple assault and unlawful entry, both misdemeanors. … Williams, who withdrew from this year’s race for board chairman after admitting a history of drunk driving and domestic disputes, was accused in one of those cases of brutally attacking his then-girlfriend.” — Alexandria Mayor William D. The Department warned pedestrians and pets to avoid the area until further notice.” (Abigail Hauslohner) — An anti-Nazi song that topped the German charts in the 1990s is back on top. “Cry for Love” is being recirculated as a statement of support for the refugees and against right-wing extremists. “Your violence is just a silent cry for love,” the song goes.

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