Monday, April 14, 2014

Colbert Is No Conan: CBS Makes Smart Choice

Stephen Colbert recently announced he’s leaving behind Comedy Central for an opportunity to be the Late Night Show at CBS replacement host for the legendary David Letterman.  I can’t think of another time that things moved so quickly with such a wonderful result.  This will be good for the book industry.

After the gap-toothed graying jokester announced he was ending a 33-year late night career – a record – and that someone else would occupy his seat in 2015, the media and fans speculated with all kinds of names, including Seinfeld, Tina Fey, Chris Rock, and even Leno.  But in a matter of days a new host was named – the unorthodox but very intelligent and spirited Stephen Colbert.  For the past decade or so he has hosted his half-hour show each night, playing a character that spoofs and ridicules a Bill O’Reilly-type guy.  He says he’ll drop the character at CBS, but hopefully he’ll continue to support books by having authors as his guests.

Though late shows typically have celebrities (some of whom may have books) such as actresses, singers, politicians or athletes, Colbert would be wise to carve his own signature into a tired late-night formula and inject some literature and book-centric ideas and personalities into the conversation.

The bigger concern for publishers and authors should be over who will replace Colbert at Comedy Central.  It would be great to have another show where authors are treated on par with celebrities.  I would vote for John Oliver, who just left Jon Stewart’s Daily Show to launch his own short-run show on HBO.  He’s quirky and intelligent and energetic enough to pull it off.

One surprise in TV land was that CNN announced Piers Morgan – who failed to replace Larry King – will be replaced not by a single person but by a rotation of people.  The network killed what used to be a winner in the 9 pm EST slot.  Now it struggles to be relevant.

It seems the hottest time slots on TV are in the late-night area – from 11 pm EST – 1:30 a.m.  What does that tell you about people and TV?  Scripted shows on network TV have failed and are second to the staged reality shows.  For network or cable news, people would rather be informed by people like Stewart and Colbert, who make fun of the news.

Can Colbert rescue TV?  He certainly provides a breath of fresh air to a medium that used to be so dominant and is now struggling to keep viewers.  But TV needs to improve its serious news divisions – otherwise we will be informed of the news by those like Colbert who only know how to laugh at life.  Laughter is needed, for sure, but we also need a dose of reality if we hope to change and not just laugh at the world.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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