04/06/14 by Rennie Detore
The late night landscape already has drastically changed. Now, thanks to David Letterman, it is getting a complete overhaul.
Letterman, host of the "Late Show" on CBS since 1993, announced this week that he is retiring from his post at the end of his contract in 2015. Letterman is following Jay Leno, who finished up on "The Tonight Show" this past February and turned the reigns over to Jimmy Fallon.
Fallon, who hosted "Late Night" prior to replacing Leno, is receiving plenty of adulation and praise as the new "Tonight Show" host, and the ratings have been some of the best for the show in years, suggesting that Leno had badly overstayed his welcome and a change was long overdue.
Letterman, even after more than 20 years on the "Late Show," never really exuded that same vibe with the audience and his ratings and appeal still strong. He's been consistent, entertaining and always garnered higher praise for funnier, smarter shows in comparison to Leno, his late night adversary at the time.
You have to assume Letterman feels as though he's achieved a certain status that walking away feels like the right thing to do, in addition to the late night scene turning into a young man's game so to speak with the likes of Fallon, Seth Myers, who took over for Fallon on "Late Night," Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O'Brien.
In essence, Letterman leaving for retirement is the end of an era.
Letterman undoubtedly influenced plenty of those aforementioned hosts and certainly will be missed given his iconic status on the "Late Show."
Now, the question remains, who actually can replace him?
Speculation likely has already begun running rampant seconds after Letterman uttered the word "retirement" as to who has the proverbial big enough shoes to move into that coveted, CBS 11:30 pm time slot opposite the "Tonight Show."
CBS had plenty to ponder over the next year as far as who they'll choose to go head to head with Fallon on "The Tonight Show." For now, it's never too soon to start throwing at least a few names into the mix.
1. Conan O'Brien: There has to be a part of O'Brien that would love to stick it to NBC and go head to head with his old employer, the same company that handed over "The Tonight Show" to him, only to pull the rug out from under him after only eight months at his dream job. The animosity would especially be remarkable if Leno still was manning "The Tonight Show," given the history between the two. O'Brien wished Fallon well with "The Tonight Show," so O'Brien probably isn't interested in hurting Fallon as much as he would like to prove to himself that he belongs on network television at 11:30 at night, even though he has a pretty nice deal with his show "Conan" on TBS.
2. Steven Colbert: He's come under fire recently because of a Twitter message that bordered on racism, even if it was meant to be a satirical joke. Before this tweet hit social media, Colbert was widely regarded and lauded as the most "likeable" television host on the market. Letterman is leaving in 2015, and if Colbert can clean up this Twitter misstep, he is a logical choice who would easily be on the CBS short list for the "Late Show."
3. Jon Stewart: The longtime "Daily Show" host on Comedy Central would be a can't miss choice for CBS, although his buddy Colbert might have something to say about Stewart usurping him as the new host of "Late Show." Given his tenure at his current job, he may be the most logical option for the CBS job.
4. Tina Fey: She is incredibly sharp, witty and loveable. She proved her presence with her hosting of "The Golden Globes." She was amazingly comfortable in that role, and before that, she breathed new life into the update desk on "Saturday Night Live," and the show in general, as one of the lead writers. The late night scene could finally use a female host. If nothing else, it might put Joan Rivers at ease. She was one of the favorites to replace Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," but she never made it to that seat. In fact, she was banned from the network.
CBS and the network executives have plenty to mull over before the clock strikes midnight on Letterman's amazing career. Replacing Letterman won't be an easy task for CBS or the person who ultimately takes the helm at "Late Night."
But, the show must go on. The hope is the next host of "Late Night," however, doesn't have viewers reaching for the "off" button.
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