First gaining widespread fame as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, former improv comic and NYC-based actor Stephen Colbert became a household name via his Comedy Central series The Colbert Report. Running from 2005-2014, the show presented a fictionalized version of Colbert that served as a send-up of popular conservative political commentators, and afforded its star an outlet to produce some of the most acclaimed small-screen political satire in recent memory.
When it was first announced that Colbert would end The Colbert Report and shed his beloved character -- in order to take over for retiring late night legend David Letterman as host of CBS' The Late Show -- many wondered if his real-life persona would capture imaginations in the same way. Some also wondered whether his sharp-tongued style would translate to network TV, whose audience comes in with much different expectations than that of Comedy Central's. It turns out that the answer to both questions has kind of been yes and no.
In practice, the "real" Colbert isn't really all that different from his character, with the obvious exceptions of him no longer treating his guests with condescension, or presenting over-the-top conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, Colbert has had a bit of a tough road on CBS regardless, with his popularity levels often paling in comparison to his wackier lead-out, The Late Late Show's James Corden. Still, CBS' confidence in Colbert has seemingly yet to waver, with him now being tapped to host the 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony.
The selection of Colbert as Emmys emcee continues a recent tradition of networks selecting one of their featured late night hosts for the gig. The exception to that rule has of course been FOX, which doesn't air late night programming. In the last decade, ABC has twice tapped Jimmy Kimmel to host the Emmys, with NBC giving the job to Jimmy Fallon in 2010 and Seth Meyers in 2014. Interestingly enough, though, the last two times CBS hosted the ceremony, they tapped former How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris, instead of then late night hosts Letterman or Craig Ferguson.
Considering the aforementioned popularity gulf between Colbert and Corden, one wonders if CBS considered offering the latter the gig, before ultimately going with Colbert. Rumors briefly swirled last year that CBS was considering replacing Colbert with Corden on The Late Show, although both the network and Corden were quick to publicly kibosh the idea. To his credit, recent months have seen a bump in profile for Colbert's Late Show, as the presidential election/inauguration season has seemed to fire up the host in a way not seen since his cable days.
The 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards air Sunday, September 17.
Source: TV Line