Back to IndieWire

CBS’ Moonves Picks Colbert And Makes The Smart Call

CBS' Moonves Picks Colbert And Makes The Smart Call

No wonder the mantra on Wall Streeters who follow CBS is: In Les We Trust.

That’s because CBS CEO Leslie Moonves invariably makes the right call, and he did it again on Thursday afternoon when he tabbed Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central to replace David Letterman, who has declared his intention to retire sometime next year after two decades of acclaim.

Of course, entertainment pundits and television critics will wail about the advent of “another white guy” or such an established and familiar (aka “safe”) selection to host CBS’ flagship entertainment program. People like to find something to gripe about.They, however, aren’t looking at the big picture. Moonves has earned the public’s trust.

Letterman became CBS’ signature TV star in an era when the network was doggedly shrugging its reputation as the network of Murder, She Wrote and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, popular programs that firmly entrenched CBS as a geezer’s channel, to the chagrin of media buyers who think young young young.. 

Letterman — along with the NFL programming, the spate of Monday comedies and such durable hits as Survivor and the CSI franchise —  put CBS in a new realm. Suddenly, Moonves’ network was being lauded as a haven of hipness. Further, Wall Street has noticed how valuable Moonves’ CBS programming is. CBS’ stock has soared during Mooonves’ reign.

Now, the challenge deepens. 

Jimmy Fallon hs taken NBC to a new status since he succeeded Jay Leno a few months ago. He has made NBC the king of social media by the dint of his clever, Facebook- and Twitter–friendly comedy routines. 

Everyone is talking on social media about What Jimmy Did Last Night. Previously, they might have remarked about Jay or Dave or Johnny or Dick or Arsenio SAID. Fallon has taken social media and made it his own, boosting his potential audience, reaching out to the coveted young viewer demographic and staying ahead of the media curve.

Can Colbert match Fallon — as well as the Internet-savvy Jimmy Kimmel on ABC? Will he try to play the game or create something wholly original?

Skeptics suggest that Colbert won’t be as funny if he dials down his brand of scathing, outspoken humor.That is nonsense. He is a smart, funny man. He knows what he is doing. Colbert will protect and enhance CBS’ late-night TV franchise. He will take Letterman’s show to new levels of popularity.

In Les CBS Trusts, indeed.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: News and tagged

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox