David Letterman dropped a bombshell on Thursday when he announced he is retiring after serving as the host of Late Night for more than 30 years. CBS must now develop a succession plan with Letterman stepping down at some point in 2015 and yesterday it was reported that Stephen Colbert is the network’s top target.
According to Mashable, Colbert, the host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, has indicated he’s willing to take over for Letterman as the host of the Late Show when the time comes. The timing could not be any better either as Cobert’s contract with Comedy Central expires after 2014 which could lead to an easy transition.
If Colbert decided to remain with Comedy Central and turn down the chance to take over for Letterman, it is not expected that Colbert’s Comedy Central brethren Jon Stewart, would be offered the position to leave The Daily Show.
“Stewart was seriously considered for the Late Show post, but his prospects have steadily faded over time as sentiment coalesced around Colbert. The Daily Show host has finished shooting his feature film directorial debut Rosewater, and is said to be passionate about continuing that and other off-air pursuits, which a major late-night hosting job would not easily permit.”
This would not be the first time that CBS poached a host from Comedy Central as they hired the original Daily Show host, Craig Kilborn, to take over the Late Late Show which is currently hosted by Craig Ferguson, but is not viewed as a potential successor to Letterman.
However, if you’re looking for a dark horse candidate to sit at Letterman’s desk, look no further than Neil Patrick Harris who just wrapped up a nine-season run as Barney Stinson on CBS’ How I Met your Mother.
The late night wars likely won’t rival what we saw two decades ago between Letterman and Jay Leno when Johnny Carson retired as the host of The Tonight Show as Colbert is not only at the top of CBS’ wish list, but he is the list.