Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1136: Who Will Replace Letterman?

Okay, we all know David Letterman is leaving the Late Show on CBS, and that I'm not really going to miss him, since I long stopped missing him in the mid-1990s, so let's join in with everyone else on the internet with POINTLESS SPECULATIONS OVER WHO WILL REPLACE HIM!!

Now remember, this is not NBC we're talking about, there is no Lorne Michaels at CBS holding onto everyone in the executive suite by the short and curlies. CBS has always been a top-down monarchy, so the final decision will rest with network uber-boss Les Moonves. So let's take a look at some of the people being considered or recommended for the job... 


Ferguson has been hosting the post-Letterman slot for about 10 years.

PROS: Charming host, good interviewer who seems actually interested in his guests. He's also pretty good at retaining a good chunk of Letterman's audience while attracting fans of his own.

CONS: His loopy, geeky, and absurdist style and tendency to interview authors, which is considered heresy by networks executives may keep him from promoting him to the more mainstream 11:35 PM slot.

Don't cry for him if he doesn't get the gig, according to reports, his contract stipulates a $12 million payoff if he's passed over.


Colbert is the front runner because everyone in media wants him to be the front runner.

PROS: He's hugely popular in media circles, and his show The Colbert Report, where he plays a parody of a conservative pundit gets about a million viewers on average, mostly around college age, which is a coveted demographic. People also seem to like him as an interviewer.

CONS: He's hugely popular in media circles. Which means that he tends to play more to the shibboleths and prejudices of the media community that I like to call The Axis of Ego, over the mainstream audience. Also the network will push to soften his sharp edges to appeal to the mainstream, which might hurt the audience he already has.

If he doesn't get the job I will be extremely surprised.


Ellen is being touted as a replacement to break the "Middle Aged White Male" dynamic of late night talk shows.

PROS: Has a successful syndicated daytime talk show, and a pretty good public image.

CONS: Has no reason to leave her daytime talk show, where she has lots of control to go work for a network and it's legions of executives. Plus, if rumours are true, I'm not sure if the tightly run, closely knit CBS network would stand for having the staff of it's late night flagship fired and replaced at least once or twice a season.


She's leaving her E! Network show and is rumoured to be in talks with CBS to replace Letterman, though those rumours may be coming from her.

PROS: Has about 500,000+ fans, mostly females 18-49, who will watch and buy just about anything she puts her name on.

CONS: Her personality, style, and choice of subject matter generally means that those 500,000+ seem to be all she's got, and her attempts to go mainstream, like the sitcom based on her life, tend to disappear unnoticed.


The legendary "shock jock" has also been touted as a replacement for Letterman.

PROS: The self-proclaimed "King of All Media" has a large and loyal fan base that followed him into the realm of uncensored satellite radio.

CONS: He'd never take the job because it would mean a pay cut and loss of the freedom he enjoys in satellite radio. Plus, he's only a few years younger than Letterman, so how long could he maintain the grind of a daily show?

However, reports say that Stern recommended:


Gutfeld hosts the Fox News shows Red Eye at 3 AM and co-hosts The Five at 5 PM.

PROS: Gutfeld would mark a radical change in style and attitude from Letterman, and Gutfeld manages to get 350,000-500,000 viewers on average which is pretty good for a cable show on at three in the morning.

CONS: There's no way in hell one of the big three networks would let him host their flagship late shows. He's too right wing politically, too prone to push controversial buttons, and he bears the "taint" of Fox News, which means that he will never win any industry awards which networks will accept in place of ratings as long as their costs are covered.

The network's more likely to replace the Late Show with...


The original series, set during the Korean War, ran over 3X longer than the real war, going 11 years on CBS.

PROS: It appeals to the late night audience, which has been skewing older and older in recent years, and will be cheaper than the mega-bucks needed to pay a host.

CONS: I can't think of any.

Who do you think should replace Letterman?


  1. Rainforest Giant8/4/14 5:52 pm

    Someone who makes the show about the audience instead of about themselves. Someone who cares about joe sixpack, as well as champagne liberals. Someone who will be willing to make japes at liberals as well as conservatives.

    You find someone who can do all that and be interesting to the audience and you'll have a winner.

  2. Rainforest Giant11/4/14 12:04 am

    Looks like Colbert, couldn't be worse as far as I can see. Well doesn't matter, I haven't watched the late show in decades.