CBS moved quickly to replace David Letterman after the late night host announced his retirement last week. Confirming speculation, Stephen Colbert, ofComedy Central's Colbert Report, will take over theLate Show sometime next year.
Colbert, whose current contract expires at year end, signed a five-year deal to host the show, which will begin when Letterman decides to step down, probably sometime next summer.
"Simply being a guest on David Letterman's show has been a highlight of my career," Colbert said in a statement. "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, 49, was an early favorite to succeed Letterman, 66, who last week announced plans to step down next year after a 33-year career in late night, including the last 11 on CBS, where he bolted after losing to Jay Leno in his quest to replace another legend, Johnny Carson.
Colbert introduced his mock-conservative blowhard persona as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and got his own show (produced by Stewart) in 2005, which competes with Letterman at 11:30 ET/PT four nights a week. CBS isn't talking yet about location, producer or "specific creative elements" of the new show, but it's fairly safe to say Colbert will shed that persona for an hourlong network talk show.
"Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television," said CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. "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."