Sideshow: Colbert’s late-night bow a ratings wow

10 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Stephen Colbert Admits Problems With Production of ‘Late Show’ Premiere.

Stephen Colbert opened the second night of his “Late Show” tenure on Wednesday with a surprising admission: Tuesday’s premiere episode almost didn’t make it to the air.

The debut of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS CBS.A 0.21 % was watched by 6.6 million viewers, easily outpacing its late-night competition, according to Nielsen figures cited by the network.THE cranky, jaded ghost of David Letterman was driven out of the Ed Sullivan Theatre as its new tenant, Stephen Colbert, made a rousing, late-night debut Tuesday night. It was a jubilant start for the 51-year-old Catholic family man as he tries to step into the shoes of one of America’s biggest television legends, David Letterman, who retired this summer after a 33-year career.

The show kicked off with a pre-taped segment that featured Colbert and various singers in spots around the country singing The Star-Spangled Banner, his way of greeting the country that may not have seen him on The Colbert Report. And then it took producers a long time to cut the episode down to time — even with CBS granting the show an extra six minutes in running time beyond its standard 11:35 p.m. hourlong time slot.

Its viewership total was more than double the audience of 2.9 million that watched NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” ABC’s “ Jimmy Kimmel” averaged 1.8 million viewers. He paid tribute to his predecessor with a salute, calling himself “a first generation Letterman fan” and proudly introduced the rapturous studio audience to the renovated Ed Sullivan Theater in New York. The segment ended perfectly with former Daily Show host and Colbert mentor Jon Stewart ripping off a catcher’s mask, turning to the crowd to say, “Let’s play ball.” Colbert could not have asked for a warmer reception from the audience, which chanted his crowd name, “Ste-phen, Ste-phen,” and greeted him with a standing ovation. By the time the edited episode was ready to be sent over to CBS, technical glitches kept “Late Show” producers from digitally delivering the show to the network. “The computers kept crashing,” Colbert said. “At 11:20 (p.m.) no one in the building could give me any certainty that the show was going to go on the air last night.” Colbert noted that his panic was compounded by the fact that CBS’ marketing blitz for his launch as the new “Late Show” host has left no stone unturned. There was cameo from one of his rivals, Jimmy Fallon from NBC’s “Tonight Show” and a stream of jokes ridiculing business mogul Donald Trump, who has trounced Bush in the Republican polls.

America’s beloved world of late-night television is vastly different from the golden age dominated by the likes of Letterman, Jay Leno and Johnny Carson. He did high kicks with his bandleader Jon Batiste and traded jokes with CBS CEO Les Moonves, who had a front-row seat with a buzzer that let him switch Colbert off for re-runs of The Mentalist, the show that occupied the timeslot after Letterman went off the air. But he will need to pull out all the stops to hold his own against Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Audience figures are down, young people watch less and less television, and part of the two Jimmys’ success has been producing clever segments that go viral on the Internet.

On Wednesday’s show, Colbert was clearly more comfortable delivering his monologue and in the first interview segment with actress Scarlett Johansson. He did better with an extended funny bit about Donald Trump’s complaint that Nabisco is going to make its cookies in Mexico, eating Oreos at his desk while showing video of Trump bloviating at various campaign stops. Bush stepped out in relaxed mode, taking swipe at President Barack Obama but otherwise smiling and joking along. “It connotes excitement,” he dead panned when asked about his campaign posters marked “Jeb!” “Younger, much better looking,” was his quick-fire response when asked in what ways he differed from his brother, former president George W Bush. When Colbert delivers lines like “He’s the only candidate brave enough to deport the Keebler elves,” he lives up to his reputation as the smartest guy in the late-night game.

The inclusion of a political candidate on the first show has been interpreted as a sign that “The Late Show” could focus on political comedy as the nation navigates the 2016 presidential election campaign. The interview segments seemed slow in coming, though, and the first, with a goateed George Clooney, could have been sharper, as he and Colbert did a spoof of the standard, self-promoting celebrity interview. To Clooney, Colbert gave a present to mark his wedding to human rights lawyer Amal Clooney — a paperweight inscribed with the words “I don’t know you.” “What is it like to be the arm candy in a relationship?” Colbert quipped. Bush tried for some humour here, saying he was younger and better-looking, but Colbert said, “I’m talking policy.” And then Bush rather frankly admitted that his brother the president didn’t show enough fiscal restraint.

He’s really a cool guy.” In an interview with The New York Times, Colbert hinted at hopes that his aptitude for political comedy would give him an edge over his rivals in election season. “This is the fifth presidential election I’m covering in late night. It happens to excite me on a level that it may not excite other people,” he told the newspaper. “It’s the biggest story in the world and nobody dies. What could be better than that?” But there is some criticism that high financial stakes and conservatism of America’s big networks can often restrict innovation. Kimmel’s is 56.9. “Colbert could be a significant profit center,” CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said at a Bank of America investment conference.

Moonves made a cameo in which he threatened jokingly to switch the CBS transmission to air reruns of the drama “The Mentalist,” which had been in the 11:35 p.m. slot since Mr.

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