Stephen Colbert, who plays a phony correspondent on the fake-news program "The Daily Show," is getting a real promotion.
Comedy Central said yesterday that it was giving Mr. Colbert his own show: a half-hour that is expected to follow "The Daily Show" on weeknights and will lampoon those cable-news shows that are dominated by the personality and sensibility of a single host. Think, he said, of Bill O'Reilly and Chris Matthews and Sean Hannity.
Where "The Daily Show" and its host, Jon Stewart, generally spoof the headlines of the day (and the anchors and reporters who deliver them), Mr. Colbert's program will send up those hosts who have become household names doing interviews and offering analyses each night on the 24-hour cable news channels. The program, which is expected to begin appearing on Comedy Central as soon as early fall, is being produced by Mr. Stewart's production company, Busboy Productions.
It will be called "The Colbert Report" - though, if Mr. Colbert has his way, the announcer will pronounce it with a faux-French accent: The co-BEAR ra-PORE.
"In the way 'The Daily Show' is kind of a goof on the structure of news, this is more of a goof on the cult of personality-type shows," Mr. Stewart said in an interview.
"It's about a man and his forum," Mr. Stewart said of such shows, including Mr. Colbert's. "And by the way, he's not doing it for himself. He's doing it for the people. As a public service."
Mr. Colbert - whose character's furrowed brow, arched eyebrows and dead-serious befuddlement are a staple of "The Daily Show" lineup - said in a separate interview: "I don't know why someone hasn't copied 'The Daily Show.' I, personally, was eager to rip us off."
That "The Daily Show" has reached the point that it is considered ripe for a spinoff is something of a milestone for the program and for Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom. But in moving Mr. Colbert off "The Daily Show" - he is expected to make only intermittent return visits - the network is also risking diluting a recipe that has made it so popular.
To that end, Comedy Central is considering ripping an actual page from the cable news networks it so often mocks, and having Mr. Stewart, at the end of his half-hour show, share a split-screen with Mr. Colbert, in what is known in the news business as a "throw" or "toss."
"It could be kind of seamless," said Doug Herzog, president of Comedy Central and Spike TV, who presided over the debut of "The Daily Show" in 1996. "It would have the effect of extending 'The Daily Show' to a full hour."
Thus far in 2005, "The Daily Show" has been drawing, on average, an estimated 1.3 million viewers each night - 23 percent more than the same period last year, and more than double its viewership during the first four months of 2001, according to Nielsen Media Research. Nearly two-thirds of that audience is the one that advertisers most desire, ages 18 to 49.
Stephen’s Presidential Campaign! Are you a registered voter in South Carolina? Go to www.colbert08.org and show your support in the most patriotic way possible: by downloading a pdf file!
Welcome to the Colbert Nation, and more generally, the Internet's World Wide Web, an interconnected system of computer networks that allows the digital transfer of data to and from remote locations, more commonly known as The Global Village.
If you arrived here by mistake, I'll save you some time: I am neither Don Colbert, purveyor of faith based medical services, nor Keary Colbert, third-string wide receiver for the NFL's Carolina Panthers. However, I am a huge fan of Don's and Keary's work, and the three of us communicate frequently via the electronic mails.
I must confess that I've never trusted the Web. I've always seen it as a coward's tool. Where does it live? How do you hold it personally responsible? Can you put a distributed network of fiber-optic cable "on notice"? And is it male or female? In other words, can I challenge it to a fight?
These troublesome questions have plagued the Internet since its inception, to say nothing of all the phreakers using their 28.8-baud modems to hack the Pentagon with their Prodigy accounts.
So, why endorse a Colbert community website? Because it's built by you, the people-or in this case Avery Gordon, an American hero who not only "gets it," but also understands that web commerce generated through use of a public personality's image must result in full compensation for that personality. (Check out the Eagle's Nest online gift shop for officially sanctioned Colbert Gear, just in time for the holidays.)
I know not all of you are fans. Some of you are here because you disagree with my no-holds-barred journalistic techniques, and my maverick stance on the issues of the day. I welcome opposing viewpoints, but I should warn you that you'll be facing off against the 2nd-place finisher at the 1981 Charleston County High-School Debate Tournament. And whatever became of that county champ who argued in favor of tractor safety modifications? Last time I checked, she didn't have her own show.
So, sit back, relax, and enjoy what I consider to be the best site on the Web. Whether you're a Republican or a Dixiecrat, you're an automatic and permanent member of the Colbert Nation: our citizenship requirements are as stringent as they are legally binding.
With the power of the Colbert Nation comes great responsibility. Is your neighbor a member? If not, why not?
Yours in truth,
How do you summarize the life of someone as awesome as Stephen Colbert? I don't know, but it sure is my privilege to try!
Stephen T. Colbert (the "T" stands for "Truth"…actually it's Tyrone) grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, which is the cultural center of the South. Some people say Savannah, Georgia is, but does Savannah have the Roper Hospital School of Practical Nursing? I don't think so!
He is the last of 11 kids, and as the youngest sibling in my family, I can totally understand the kind of crap he must've had to put up with. That's probably why he went into journalism, so he could stick it to the man!!!
Stephen graduated in the top 47 percent of his class at Dartmouth, where he majored in history and performed with the all-male a cappella group The Sing Dynasty. (Another famous Sing Dynasty alum? Actor Stacy Keach!)
After college, Stephen took a year off to travel around the world. He went everywhere: England, Ireland, Scotland…even Wales. That's when he developed a love of journalism because he kept a journal of his travels. What I wouldn't give to read Stephen's thoughts!
When Stephen returned to the States in 1987, he decided he had a lifelong passion for news, so he took a job as a fact checker at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He wowed his editor when he single-handedly exposed the largest mail-fraud scam in Virginia state history. Stephen still doesn't trust the U.S. Postal Service to this day. (Snail mail is for suckers, anyway!)
Thanks to his new acclaim as a man of the people, Stephen was quickly snapped up by Richmond's WVBX-TV news, where he spent three years as a field reporter. He was voted "Sexiest Local Newscaster of 1989" by Virginia Living magazine and raised almost $600 at a charity bachelor auction. Best of all, the woman who cast the winning bid is now Mrs. Stephen Colbert! (Lucky lady!)
Before long, Stephen was being courted by another type of suitor: mid-market television stations. He finally settled on Raleigh, North Carolina's WKJC Channel 5 News, where he worked the state capital beat for seven years. In that time, North Carolina tourism numbers rose by 9 percent. Way to go, Stephen!
In 1998, beloved WKJC anchor Tyler Peterson died suddenly, and of course, the station looked to Stephen to fill the void. Though Stephen wanted to meet the station halfway, WKJC management refused to negotiate a reasonable salary for such a rising star, so Stephen was forced to uproot his family and move back to Charleston.
But, with every cloud comes a silver lining-and this silver lining was pure gold. Stephen was tapped by Jon Stewart to join the investigative team at The Daily Show. Finally, New York City would get a TV newsman who wasn't afraid to take a bite out of the Big Apple.
(Believe it or not, I met Stephen for the first time at a Daily Show taping. After waiting in line for tickets, my blood sugar had dipped pretty low, so a security guard took me to the Daily Show commissary. I reached for a butterscotch pudding, and guess who went for the same one? I assume you said Stephen, AND YOU ARE RIGHT!!! He got to keep the pudding, but I got something more precious-I met Stephen Colbert!)
In his many years as a Daily Show correspondent, Stephen has done more than most people do in their whole lives! But now he's hosting his own show! Is there nothing Stephen can't do? No, there is nothing!
He's won four Emmys, two Peabodys, two Television Critics Association nods, and most importantly, a 2003 Teen Choice Award nomination (we're the voters of the future!).
Free to report things the way he sees them, Stephen will now be able to deliver his own opinion on the news.
In addition to his televised work, Stephen has penned three best-selling books. These include Don't Buy This Book if You Don't Have the Balls; Silent Night: Reassessing the Sociological Imprint of the Tiananmen Square Massacre; and Don't Buy This Book if You Don't Have the Balls - for Kids. Once we get the Eagle's Nest official merchandise store running again, autographed copies will be available for a modest mark-up.
I'm proud of what Stephen has accomplished; it's like the pride a son feels for his father. Of course, Stephen is nothing like my real dad, who's a total fascist.