NEW YORK —
It's a rapidly changing period for that time slot. Fallon took over for Jay Leno on NBC's "Tonight" show in February, and has dominated the ratings since his arrival, with Letterman and Kimmel running neck-and-neck for second. Chelsea Handler has also said she is about to end her talk show on E! Entertainment Television.
CBS chose not to break the mold: CBS, ABC and NBC will all compete at 11:35 p.m. with shows hosted by white males. CBS, which has an older audience and generally seeks personalities with the widest appeal possible, is taking a chance with a personality whose show has a much more specific appeal. But, like Fallon and Kimmel, Colbert is popular with young men and active on the Internet and social media.
"Our discussions really centered on finding the most talented, the most creative (choice), the person who was going to conduct the most interesting interviews and be the most interesting person himself, and that's what led us to Stephen," said Nina Tassler, CBS entertainment chairman. She said CBS considered several candidates, but did not name them.
Colbert's show won the Emmy for best variety series last year and has earned two Peabody Awards. It's another big move for a Jon Stewart protege: Colbert worked on "The Daily Show" for eight years before getting his own program, and John Oliver is about to launch a weekly show for HBO later this month.
The decision opens up a hole on Comedy Central's schedule. The network said in a statement Thursday that "we look forward to the next eight months of the ground-breaking 'Colbert Report' and wish Stephen the very best."
Stewart told New York magazine on Wednesday night that Colbert would be terrific for Letterman's job. Stewart said he likes what he does and Colbert has a better opportunity to broaden out his comedy than he would.