September 11, 2015 | Posted in:Social TV
By Jackson Murphy
As Chris Rock bluntly and sarcastically put it on David Letterman’s final Late Show: “I’m just glad your show is being given to another white guy.” In this case, that gentleman is comedian and actor Stephen Colbert, who is stepping into Letterman’s rather large shoes this week. Colbert is best known as the host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report for the past 10 years, on which he played a character–a much more outlandish version of himself. He’s also appeared in a few films (most notably 2005’s Bewitched) and voiced in DreamWorks Animation’s Monsters vs. Aliens and Mr. Peabody & Sherman.
There’s plenty of speculation over just how Colbert will be as The Late Show host, since we’ve never seen the real Stephen Colbert host a talk show. The 51-year-old promises to both entertain and inform each night. His opening week guest line-up includes Hollywood superstars George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, and Amy Schumer. But clearly, Colbert won’t completely abandon his political roots, as both Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush and Vice President Joe Biden are also on the Week 1 menu. And he’s also invited some business big shots to join him, as both the CEOs of Uber and Tesla are scheduled to appear.
Week 2 will feature celebrities Emily Blunt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Kevin Spacey, Lupita Nyong’o, and legendary comedian Carol Burnett. But will viewers stick around for the later guests, including a Supreme Court Justice, US Senator, and UN Secretary General? These certainly aren’t the typical people you see in the chair after midnight on Fallon, Kimmel, or Corden. By adopting this strategy, Colbert will be forced to keep these segments entertaining enough so 20, 30, and even 60-year-olds won’t be changing the channel, looking for a funny bit with a celeb.
Colbert’s political/non-star approach may have to be phased out if early ratings are not good. It’ll be interesting to see the type of social-media friendly sketches Colbert will be doing. These have become THE most important marketing element for the late-night shows. Corden, who began his Late Late Show run on CBS earlier this year, has already made quite a mark with his YouTube stunts.
The network is clearly taking a huge gamble with Colbert, who seems quite nice (and not mean-spirited, which Jay Leno recently called Jimmy Kimmel), but I think it’ll take awhile before I’m convinced that he’s the right guy for the job.
Jackson Murphy (a.k.a. Lights-Camera-Jackson) has been a film critic/entertainment reporter on TV and radio since the age of 7 1/2. He currently appears weekly on WFLY radio (Albany, NY) and his reviews appear in The Record (Troy, NY) newspaper.
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