Colbert to play himself in ‘Late Show’ debut

September 6, 2015

Stephen Colbert is dropping the persona of the cluelessly pompous conservative pundit he invented for cable TV when he debuts this week as host of the CBS “Late Show.”

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“When he doesn’t have the disguise of being a fictional character, is the thing he does going to be likeable?” wondered Robert Thompson, founding director of Syracuse University’s Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture.

Colbert has said he looks forward to interacting with guests as himself, rather than as his alter ego from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and its spinoff, “The Colbert Report.”

“I’m looking forward to being sincerely interested in what they have to say without having to translate it through an idiot’s mouth,” he told a gathering of TV critics last month.

Colbert, 51, is certainly younger than Letterman, his CBS predecessor, who was 68 when he retired in May. Colbert’s 8 million-plus Twitter following dwarfs Letterman’s and the median age of his “Colbert Report” audience was far below that of “Late Show.”

But Fallon, 40, already has expanded the ratings of his predecessor, Jay Leno, both in overall viewers and among the key demographic of young adults, while establishing a robust following of his own on Twitter and YouTube.

Little is known about the format of Colbert’s new show, except for the selection of Louisiana-bred musician Jon Batiste as bandleader and a restoration of the show’s Manhattan venue, the Ed Sullivan Theatre.

 

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