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Late show with a difference

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When Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” landed as David Letterman’s replacement as the host of CBS’s “Late Show,” there was much speculation about who would get his coveted 11:30 p.m. weeknight time slot. In what was the first major change in the cable network’s late night programming lineup in almost 10 years, Comedy Central named African-American comedian Larry Wilmore as Colbert’s substitute with a new show called “The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore.”

Wilmore, a regular on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” who was billed as “senior black correspondent,” has racked up some impressive comedic credits. He created “The Bernie Mac Show,” and has written for shows like “The Office,” “In Living Color,” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” His selection is a step toward addressing a shortage of minority comedians on mainstream television. The lack of diversity has become a source of embarrassment for several popular TV shows, including “Saturday Night Live,” which hired its first black woman cast member in more than six years last January, along with two black women writers.

Wilmore’s new show is also a smart business bet. CBS tapped Colbert for the “Late Show” in part due to his huge popularity with young audiences. Comedy Central understands that demography is destiny. In fact, it was Stewart who came up with the idea of creating a show that would serve as a platform for minority voices and comedians of color. But both Stewart and Wilmore have been quick to point out that “The Minority Report” will not just address minority issues but a variety of news topics from a multicultural point of view. The new show, expected to debut next January, will feature a panel of underrepresented voices that promises to attract underserved audiences eager to see their perspectives on the screen; advertisers will surely take notice.

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