LOS ANGELES: Monday afternoon, Stephen Colbert closed out a long day of CBS panels at the Television Critics Association summer tour by previewing his version of The Late Show and reflecting on his days on The Colbert Report.
“CBS has asked nothing of me other than I fill an hour every night Monday to Friday,” said Colbert. “They haven’t asked me to change or do anything.” But it’s clear that Colbert will change at least to some extent — he’ll drop the “Stephen Colbert” character, which he called a “tool,” that he played on The Colbert Report. “One of the reasons I most wanted to drop the character is that I felt had done everything I could do with him, or everything I could with that show, other than have my honest interest in the guest.”
Throughout the panel, Colbert emphasized the importance of guests — George Clooney will be his first (“I wish I could’ve done better than George Clooney, but he’ll do”) and Kendrick Lamar will be his first musical guest — but revealed that he won’t just stick to big Hollywood names. “Anybody who’s interesting and has something to say — that’s what I’m interested in,” he said. Colbert will have actors, musicians, politicians, but also “if somebody is not famous and they’ve got something to say and they can present themselves on camera, I think that’d be the perfect guest to have.”
There will still be some shades of The Colbert Report, however, especially since his entire creative staff moved over to CBS with him. As for the “Colbert” character, he said, “I’m here to tell you, I meant a lot of it. I even agreed with my character sometimes. But we tried to establish a really intimate relationship with the audience and my hope is when you see me on the new show, you’ll go, ‘Oh, wow, a lot of that was him the whole time.'”
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert premieres September 8 on CBS.