Stephen Colbert poses backstage with his awards for Outstanding Variety Series and Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, Calif., Sept. 22, 2013.
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Stephen Colbert tapped to host CBS’ The Late Show

Updated

Stephen Colbert will take over the reigns as host of The Late Show.

CBS made the official announcement Thursday that the Comedy Central star will succeed David Letterman, who plans to retire next year.

“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” said Colbert in a press release. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.” 

He added, “I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”

Letterman released his own statement on the decision: “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.”

Colbert inked a five-year deal with CBS. He will leave behind his Comedy Central job playing an egotistical right-wing host on the satirical cable news show, The Colbert Report. And according to WSJ, he’s also leaving his award-winning character behind.

“Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,” said CBS President Leslie Moonves.“David Letterman’s legacy and accomplishments are an incredible source of pride for all of us here, and today’s announcement speaks to our commitment of upholding what he established for CBS in late night.”

Not everyone was happy about the big announcement. In reaction to the news, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said, “CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America.”

After clocking 21 years as host of The Late Show, Letterman publicly announced his plans to leave on his April 3 broadcast. Colbert’s name was immediately floated as a possible successor by television industry insiders.

Colbert launched his popular Comedy Central show in 2005 after many years working as a “correspondent” on The Daily Show.

On Wednesday, Daily Show anchorman Jon Stewart suggested Colbert would be a strong candidate for the job.

“He is a uniquely talented individual,” Stewart told New York Magazine. “He’s wonderful in Colbert Report, but he’s got gears he hasn’t even shown people yet. He would be remarkable.”

The official 2015 premiere date has yet to be determined, as well as specific producers, writers and filming location.

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Stephen Colbert tapped to host CBS' The Late Show

Updated