CBS still does not know — or isn’t saying, anyway — when Stephen Colbert is taking over for David Letterman on Late Show, because Letterman hasn’t said when in 2015 he’s vacating. But the network will put Colbert to work in December when he hosts the 37th annual Kennedy Center Honors, airing on CBS December 30, marking its 37th consecutive year as the ceremony’s TV home.
It’s unclear if the move signals a larger role for Colbert at CBS, like we hope, or the network just wants to goose ratings on the normally pretty staid ceremony, which comes with okay ratings but oozes prestige and Washington glad-handing opportunity. Walter Cronkite, aka “The Most Trusted Man In America” was its host until 2003, when Caroline Kennedy took over. Glenn Close filled in last year — Kennedy having assumed her duties as Ambassador to Japan. Honors co-producer, Michael Stevens said this morning Colbert was chosen because he’s a D.C. native “whose cultural influence extends nationwide” and whose comedic talents are “renowned.”
“I am stunned to be receiving a Kennedy Center Honor at such a young age. I thought it would be years before… I’m sorry. I’m being told I am HOSTING the Kennedy Center Honors. Oh…Well, I’m glad. That makes a lot more sense,” Colbert said in today’s announcement. He has participated in the ceremony before, during the 2011 tribute to Yo-Yo Ma. He killed.
“He is best in class and will no doubt undo any solemnity that might otherwise attend the occasion,” said the clambake’s other co-producer, George Stevens, Jr.
This year’s honors recipients: singer Al Green, actor/filmmaker Tom Hanks, ballerina Patricia McBride, singer-songwriter Sting, and comedienne Lily Tomlin.