Stephen Colbert, who hosts “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, will replace David Letterman on the “Late Show.” Colbert will take Letterman’s place as late-night host as soon as Letterman retires.
Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS, and Nina Tassler, chairman of CBS Entertainment, announced the five-year deal between Colbert and the network today.
In a statement, CBS said Colbert’s premiere date as host will be announced after Letterman determines a timetable for his final broadcasts in 2015.
“Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,’’ said 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.’’
‘‘Stephen is a multi-talented and respected host, writer, producer, satirist and comedian who blazes a trail of thought-provoking conversation, humor and innovation with everything he touches,’’ said Tassler.
Colbert, 49, has been hosting “The Colbert Report” since 2005 in character as a fictional conservative talk-show host. The character will retire with ‘‘The Colbert Report.’’ Colbert is a former correspondent for “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.”
“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,’’ said Colbert. ‘‘I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”
Last week, Letterman announced during a taping of his show that he will end his late-night reign when his contract expires.
Letterman, who turns 67 on Saturday, is the longest-running late-night talk show host in US television history with 32 years on air since he first debuted “Late Night With David Letterman” in 1982 on NBC. He then moved to CBS in 1993. He began his TV career in 1978 on CBS’s “Mary,” a variety series starring Mary Tyler Moore.
The new late-night faceoff at 11:35 p.m. will consist of Jimmy Fallon, CBS’s Colbert, and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel. Fallon replaced Jay Leno as host of “The Tonight Show” on NBC in February, and Seth Meyers took Fallon’s place as host of “Late Night.”