Stephen Colbert Is the New David Letterman

It’s official: Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman as CBS’ Late Show host.
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It’s official: Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman as CBS’ Late Show host.
Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 9.51.53 AM

Well, that didn't take long:

It’s official: Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman as CBS’ Late Show host.

The broadcast network has tapped the 49-year-old Comedy Central host to take over the late-night franchise.

CBS has made a five-year deal with Colbert, which was announced Thursday by CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves and CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler.

“Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,” Moonves said. “David Letterman’s legacy and accomplishments are an incredible source of pride for all of us here, and today’s announcement speaks to our commitment of upholding what he established for CBS in late night.”

Colbert had this to say about taking the reins from Dave:

"Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead. I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth."

Colbert ascending to the Late Show desk was the easiest bet in television from the moment Letterman announced his retirement. It's unfortunate that to make this happen we'll have to lose one of the most entertaining and insightful political shows on television, The Colbert Report, but Colbert has always been much more than his satirical right-wing blowhard persona and the truth is he's going to kill as Letterman's successor.

What's interesting is that we once again have clear choices in late night broadcast TV. Fallon's knocking it out of the park on the Tonight Show, even though if you removed all the pop culture nostalgia and treacly gimmicks there'd be nothing left of him. Kimmel has, in some ways, become more an inheritor of Letterman's mantle than anyone in late night right now; he's got an unpredictable and at times irrepressible nasty streak in him that's always fun to watch and which provides the perfect antidote to Fallon's regular overdose of inoffensiveness. And now there's Colbert, who really is a brilliant broadcaster in the Letterman vein. There will never be another Dave -- I don't think there can be anymore. But Colbert's as worthy a step toward the future as you're going to find.

So I guess Suey Park got what she wanted after all -- but at a hell of a cost. Sure, The Colbert Report goes away, but Colbert himself is officially here to stay.