When David Letterman pushes away from his desk on CBS’ “Late Night with David Letterman” in 2015, Stephen Colbert will be ready to pull up a chair and take over.

Speculation that the “Colbert Report” satirist would inherit the show after Letterman’s 21-year engagement at the Eye Network’s Ed Sullivan Theater ends swiftly followed Letterman’s retirement announcement on April 3, but other names — like Neil Patrick Harris, Craig Ferguson and even Chelsea Handler — were also bandied about.

According to Variety, CBS picked Colbert in part because of his enduring appeal, proven over his own nine-year “Report” run, with younger male viewers — and there’ll be some clever (and younger) competition awaiting him in the late-night sweepstakes:

Indeed, Colbert will be the Eye’s entry into a race that has already started. Both ABC and NBC have already turned their latenight programming over to younger hosts – Jimmmy Kimmel for the Alphabet and Jimmy Fallon at the Peacock. Colbert will have to hit the ground running, mastering a new format while trying to maintain the current fan base that has made his “Colbert Report” a mainstay for the Viacom-owned network.

Interestingly, Variety also suggested that, for his new gig, Colbert won’t be keeping up the faux-conservative act that helped him clinch his success on his own “Comedy Central” show after cutting his teeth as a member of Jon Stewart’s supporting cast on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

Somewhere in Manhattan, Bill O’Reilly might just be apoplectic over this announcement. Meanwhile, CBS CEO Les Moonves crowed about Colbert in an statement released to make it all official on Thursday, praising Letterman’s newly minted successor as “one of the most inventive and respected forces on television.” Whether Colbert can remain a force without the help of his trusty right-wing alter ego, however, remains to be seen.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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