The moment Stephen Colbert has been ‘twitching’ for: His ‘Late Show’ debuts …

8 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Colbert gets tips from Letterman.

The successor to David Letterman made the cover of Time and even got a spread in Glamour. KDKA’s Susan Koeppen and Ken Rice got the chance to visit with the new guy, Stephen Colbert, and brought a few gifts, including a Terrible Towel and a Steelers jersey.The actor, comedian and – since 2005 — faux bloviator of Comedy Central’s TheColbert Report — on Tuesday begins his dream job, replacing David Letterman as the host of CBS’s Late Show (11:35 p.m.

“I think they do,” he says. “You can’t do the character, who was as self-centered as my guy was, if you weren’t covertly showing yourself the entire time. ET/PT). “It gives me everything I want,” he says in an interview. “I like meeting the guests, I like the grind, I like a live audience, I love to hear the laughter. For one thing, Colbert, formerly of Comedy Central, will doubtless attract a younger audience than Letterman, whose viewers’ median age was over 60, the oldest in late-night. Besides, of course, this: “People in Pittsburgh are intelligent and physically attractive,” said Colbert with a wink. “Now, ask your questions.” Koeppen: “If served a salad topped with French fries, do you a) send it back because there must be some sort of mistake; b) remove the fries and eat them separately; or c) respect fries as a vegetable, and eat them and enjoy.” “I got one, one out of three,” said Colbert. “One out of three, that’s the standard for Channel 2! And in contrast to technophobe Dave, Colbert (and his staff, much of which he brought with him) has embraced promotion on social media, parceling out viral videos all summer as fast-turnaround “finger exercises.” Last week he sparred with Jeb Bush on Twitter and churned out a series of Snapchat videos. “I started college when he started the (NBC) show, so Dave…was a significant influence” that’s reflected in his humor. “His anti-authority quality served all of us well.” Still, he’s ready to make his own mark.

I was able to say things that meant something to me behind the mask of this character for many years … and now I can do it without having to run it through him.” But how much of Colbert was in his character? “A ton,” he says, including that arched eyebrow. “The purposeful choices to not know things were mostly him. Sixty percent of our news, we’re not sure about!” But we discovered that long before that, he first became a familiar face to the people of… Omaha?

Before Letterman’s final show in May, Colbert asked the late-night legend for advice. “I said: ‘Do you mind me asking these questions?’ And he said: ‘No. I was very proud of the show we had done, we’d had some success with it. (But) if I was going to do another live show in front of an audience, taking over for Dave was the only thing that had a laurel wreath on it.” He even spent time with Letterman at the Ed Sullivan Theater, where Dave showed him how to use a freight elevator to get from the show’s offices to the stage. “I was never a standup, I’m an improviser, and so for me the joy is, what’s going to happen between the two of us for the next six or eight minutes? With Jon Stewart retired and Jimmy Fallon and Kimmel veering toward other topics, Colbert immediately claims the mantle of political humor: Colbert says he chose his premiere for the day after Labor Day, a traditional start to the campaign for presidential campaign, and says he’s “uniquely positioned” to tackle it thanks to his staff and the relationships with politicians forged over the past decade. That’s right, in a commercial for First Tier Bank of Nebraska. “That’s the only commercial I think I got out of 11 years in Chicago,” said Colbert. “There are lot of ad agencies in Chicago, and I was a young actor in Chicago. ET/PT), having decided two years ago — well before David Letterman announced plans to pack it up after a storied 33-year late-night career — to end his run as his blowhard alter ego.

Jon didn’t like it.” Colbert plans an eclectic mix of “scientists, newsmakers, politicians, intellectuals, musicians that I love” and the usual assortment of movie and TV stars promoting projects. Partly, he was tired of it: Mulling his future at Comedy Central, just as Jon Stewart was growing equally restless, “I went, if I’m ever going to change, if I’m going to find another gear, I can’t do it here. But one very important question will linger for a while: When CBS announced its “Late Show” succession plan in April 2014, Jimmy Fallon’s stint as host of “The Tonight Show” was not even 2 months old. George Clooney and Jeb Bush are booked for Tuesday’s extended opener; other guests due this week and next range from Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-Moon and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to the CEOs of Uber and Tesla to Scarlett Johansson, Jake Gyllenhaal and Lupita Nyong’o. They chatted on the phone when Colbert’s hiring was first announced (Letterman has said he was not consulted on the choice), and later, as Dave prepared to sign off for the last time.

Because everything is predicated upon his point of view.” And partly, he felt viewers’ appetite for it had waned, though his popularity remained steady. “He was aggressively ignorant, someone who commodified anger and fear. And that was a very nice way of him sort of handing me the keys,” Colbert said. “That first week or so, maybe even the first couple of weeks, you’ve had all this time to prepare and put things in the can, and it really is an opportunity to put your best foot forward,” said Brian Lowry, columnist for Variety magazine. A couple weeks before he went off the air, I said, ‘Can I come talk to you?’ We sat in his outer office and had a couple bottles of Poland Spring (water); we talked about our dogs and our kids, and then I started asking him things about the show, nuts and bolts.

And you have to take little sips of it to keep doing the character.” “Obviously, we were very excited about it, and his name went to the top of the list immediately,” recalls CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. “I loved the show, I loved his humor, I loved his smarts, I loved his commentary. People asked me, ‘Aren’t you worried because he was in character?’ It never entered my mind that this wouldn’t be the normal, logical transition, and that he couldn’t do it.” At 51, Colbert is also the oldest of the new generation of late-night hosts (though still 17 years younger than the man he replaced).

And despite his Comedy Central character, he insists he’s not the liberal-in-disguise people might think and is open to having guests with more than one point of view. “I’d like conservatives to come on the show…(and) find out that the needs of that character over many years made me into an advocate that I am not. Part of the reason for the media’s fascination with Colbert’s “Late Show” plan is that on “The Colbert Report,” he played a character, an insufferable right-wing pundit who held forth on the political news of the day with a comic mixture of arrogance and inaccuracy.

Coupled with the desirable demographics of its audience – young, well-educated and well-to-do – it made money for Comedy Central. “I would be surprised if CBS could be satisfied with a smaller but upmarket audience,” McCall said. “Networks need volume. A smaller audience, no matter how upscale, creates an image problem for the network.” Dixon predicts that “Colbert will shed his former persona with ease.” He “has already proven that … his wit remains intact, and his satirical instincts sharp.” Reports from audience members at recent live tests of “The Late Show” support that hypothesis. Last month, he was salivating over the prospect: “It would be an honor,” he said (and told a press conference that with no TV outlet, he’d been “dry-Trumping” all summer). “The greatest thing about Donald Trump is you can say anything to Donald Trump and he doesn’t care.

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