While watching the Final Four in the NCAA championship in Dallas last weekend, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves was on the phone working on Stephen Colbert‘s deal to succeed David Letterman as Late Show host. That’s how quickly CBS brass settled on Colbert as a replacement after Letterman announced his retirement last Thursday. “There were other good candidates but he stood out, we knew he would be the greatest replacement for David we could ever get,” Moonves told CBS’ The Early Show this morning (see the clip below). “And when I called Dave to ask for his blessing he said exactly the same thing. He said I can’t think of anybody even a close second.” Moonves also revealed Colbert’s reaction to the news he had been chosen for the job. “He kept thanking me for this opportunity and telling me he wouldn’t let me down.”
Moonves indicated the transition — he called it “once-in-a-generation change” — will likely happen after the end of next season, saying that Letterman will stay on for “at least another year.” As for where the show will be based, Moonves noted that Colbert is a New Yorker, so “it is more than likely it will be on the East Coast.” The network has been the subject of intense courtship by both New York and Los Angeles vying for the hundreds of millions of dollars a program like Late Show brings to a city. “It’s very nice to be the prettiest girl at the dance,” he said.