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Stephen Colbert To Succeed Letterman As 'Late Show' Host

LOS ANGELES ( — Stephen Colbert, the host, writer and executive producer of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning "The Colbert Report," will succeed David Letterman as the host of the "Late Show" on CBS, the company announced Thursday.

The move will be effective when Letterman retires from the broadcast in 2015, according to CBS Television Network officials.

The five-year agreement between CBS and Colbert was announced by Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corporation, and Nina Tassler, Chairman of CBS Entertainment.

Letterman, the legendary, critically acclaimed host of the CBS late night series for 21 years, announced his retirement on his April 3 broadcast.

"Stephen has always been a real friend to me. I'm very excited for him, and I'm flattered that CBS chose him. I also happen to know they wanted another guy with glasses," Letterman said in a statement.

Colbert's premiere date as host of "Late Show" will be announced after Letterman determines a timetable for his final broadcasts.

Specific creative elements, as well as the producers and the location for the Colbert-hosted "Late Show," will be determined and announced at a later date.

It was also unclear whether the show would remain in New York City, where "The Colbert Report" is currently produced, or if "Late Show" would move to the West Coast.

Moonves told CBS News Thursday the network hasn't solidified future plans for the show's location.

"We haven't yet made a decision on where this show will be," he said. "Stephen Colbert is a New York guy; his family's there. It is more than likely it will be on the East Coast. You know, we're still talking, we're being wined and dined by New York, L.A., Connecticut, New Jersey. It's very nice to be the prettiest girl at the dance, and that's the position we are in, so that will be decided in the coming months."

Moonves, however, was quick to elaborate why Colbert was selected to take the late night duties.

"Every name in town came up. We got a lot of calls from agents and managers, but the one that stood out amongst all them was Stephen Colbert," he said. "I think he has originality, he brings a great deal of intelligence, he is so versatile that it appeared to us he was the only logical successor to David. And when I called Dave to ask for his blessing, he said exactly same thing. He said, 'I can't think of anybody even a close second,' which was gratifying to us, and obviously to Stephen."

Colbert — who has also enjoyed success as the author of two New York Times best-selling books, "I AM AMERICA (and So Can You!)" and "AMERICA AGAIN: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't" — is "thrilled and grateful" for the opportunity.

"Simply being a guest on David Letterman's show has been a highlight of my career," the 49-year-old comedian said. "I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave's lead. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth."

Thea Andrews of "The Insider" said audiences can look forward to seeing the "real" Colbert on CBS, as opposed to his "fake Republican" persona.

"With all these changes happening, it means everyone is at the top of their competitive game. So, for us, the viewers, it means the best of late night is yet to come," she said.

Hollywood Reporter executive editor Matthew Belloni told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the network is clearly interested in bringing in some of the edge - and younger viewers - from Colbert's wildly popular Comedy Central show.

"He can adapt that for the CBS audience and hopefully bring down the average age of the audience, which for Letterman was like 58 years old...they do not want that," Belloni said. "They want something more akin to the Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel audiences."

"Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" host Jimmy Kimmel both reacted to Colbert's new job on Twitter.


CBS' Les Moonves On 'Late Show' Location: 'We Haven't Yet Made A Decision'

Mayor Garcetti Asks CBS To Move 'Late Show' To Los Angeles After Letterman Retires

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