Colbert seen as likely to keep ‘Late Show’ in New York

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David Letterman and Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show" set in 2011. (AP Images/CBS)
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Alex Weprin

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"The Late Show" is likely to stay in New York City when David Letterman leaves and Stephen Colbert takes over, sources familiar with Colbert's thinking told Capital today. And the rank and file at "The Colbert Report," his Comedy Central show, are operating on the assumption they are invited to follow the comedian to staff "The Late Show," and stay in New York, someone familiar with Colbert's transition plan told Capital.

These were two elements of the change in the late-night talk show—where it would originate and how the staff would be composed—that CBS' announcement today explicitly left unanswered; CBS representatives did not respond immediately to an email asking to confirm these two points.

Colbert, who is from South Carolina, has raised his family in New Jersey, and is said to want to stay here. Recently, NBC moved "The Tonight Show" to New York City from Burbank after receiving incentives from the state and city to move here; but it's also likely that Lorne Michaels, who is based in New York, and Jimmy Fallon had some bargaining power with NBC. It's less clear whether Colbert, who is being pulled into broadcast late-night from basic cable, could have had similar sway in the decision about where to film his "Late Show."

And whether Colbert takes Letterman’s studio in the Ed Sullivan Theater remains to be seen. CBS owns the theater, which is landmarked. That said, CBS is also said to want to debut Colbert immediately after Letterman retires. How they would build out the new set in the same space without a gap between the two hosts' versions of the show was unclear.

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Meanwhile, Comedy Central, which has forged a late-night lineup that regularly dominates the broadcast competitors among younger viewers, particularly in the 18-34 demographic, is beginning to react to the loss of Colbert.

“The Daily Show” won’t be going anywhere just yet, and “@Midnight” (at midnight) has become a bona fide hit. There is no question that Comedy Central will have a new 11:30 p.m. show come 2015; the only question is what.

The good news for the channel is that it has nine months to work that plan out. Someone familiar with the channel’s plans told Capital that everything is currently on the table, from launching a new “Daily Show” spinoff featuring an existing correspondent, to launching an entirely new show, to moving Chris Hardwick up half an hour, if not with “@Midnight” itself.

On CBS, Craig Ferguson is in the midst of contract negotiations. He may yet choose to stay at “The Late Late Show” or he may choose to depart. If he does depart, there will be yet another late night domino still in play.