EXCLUSIVE: CBS is shaking up the late-night landscape by bringing back an old Comedy Central format to replace The Late Late Show with James Corden, ending The Late Late Show franchise after almost three decades, we have learned.
No one would comment, but we hear that a reboot of @midnight, a series that ran for 600 episodes on Comedy Central from 2013-17, has been chosen for the 12:30 a.m. time slot currently occupied by The Late Late Show.
It comes as Corden is putting away his late-night desk later this spring, as revealed by Deadline last year.
We hear that Stephen Colbert is to exec produce the new incarnation of @midnight, which comes from comedy brand Funny or Die, the company behind the original series on Comedy Central. That would give The Late Show host/executive producer another hour of late-night that he is involved in (in addition to also exec producing Comedy Central series Tooning Out the News and Hell of a Week with Charlamagne Tha God.
Chris Hardwick, who hosted the original @midnight, is not expected to have direct involvement in the reboot, we hear.
CBS President and CEO George Cheeks has been leading the search for a successor to The Late Late Show, with the network brass casting a wide net for different formats beyond a traditional talk show that also are modestly priced. They aimed to trim the cost in the 12:30 a.m. hour from the just north of $60M a year it takes to make The Late Late Show to roughly $35M-a-year range for its replacement.
Cheeks himself told Deadline last year that the network was looking to experiment and freshen up the format when Corden leaves.
A number of contenders were considered, with the field whittled down until @midnight was picked.
This marks the latest synergy move within Paramount Global, with CBS rebooting an old late-night format from a cable network on the Viacom side of the merged company. @midnight is likely to appeal to a slightly younger audience, who generally watch online or through clips on social media.
The original Comedy Central show, in its first incarnation, was an Internet-themed panel game show where three guests competed in a series of improv games. These included Rapid Refresh, where contestants choose an answer based on an Internet meme or headline; tweet-themed Hashtag Wars; and Live Challenges, where contestants wrote answers over the commercial break; as well as a plethora of recurring games.
As each episode progressed, the third-place contestant was eliminated and the final two contestants played the final round FTW (For the Win).
Expect the games to change but the general format to remain the same.
The pending 12:30 a.m. change is a blow for The Late Late Show brand, which first aired on CBS in January 1995 with Tom Synder, followed by Craig Kilborn, Craig Ferguson and Corden. @midnight‘s arrival would leave NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers as the only talker in the 12:30 a.m. slot, going head-to-head with the panel game show.
NBC, itself, has considered moving out of the 10 p.m. scripted drama slot in the future, which could have a similar knock-on effect to both Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
The move to have Colbert — who hosts The Late Show at 11:30 p.m. — as an exec producer, harkens back to the days when David Letterman, who at that point hosted The Late Show, secured a contract that gave him and his Worldwide Pants production company control of producing the show that followed him. Unlike that agreement, CBS is retaining ownership of its late-night block, we hear.
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