Comedy Central gets best of Kilborn-for-Stewart
The daisy chain of late-night TV is looking
like a sidewalk shell game, that classic con played on tourists
when the cops aren't around.
Craig Kilborn is leaving Comedy Central's The
Daily Show to become host of CBS' The Late Late Show,
replacing retiring broadcasting giant Tom Snyder. Snyder's backup,
Jon Stewart, on Tuesday was named replacement for Kilborn, who
now works for David Letterman, who came into late-night TV 16
years ago by replacing Snyder.
So, when the shells are all shuffled early next
year, Comedy Central will have traded Kilborn, a would-be hipster
who comes across as only as good as his writers, for Stewart,
a genuine comedic talent. And CBS will have Kilborn but not Snyder.
Even the mouth-breathers fresh off the bus don't
get taken like that. And CBS is acting as if it doesn't know it's
"We're thrilled to have Craig at CBS,"
network spokesman Chris Ender said. "We can't wait to get
It's not as though Stewart, 35, is a sure thing.
But he's a good bet. His MTV comedy/talk show was terrific, and
the syndicated nightly version for Paramount failed only because
viewers, then as now, didn't need another late-night talk show.
He wound up filling in ably for Snyder, and playing the successor
to Garry Shandling's talk-show-host character on HBO's The
Larry Sanders Show.
With The Daily Show, he inherits a sometimes
brutal satire of the day's events and a staff capable of making
Kilborn, a former ESPN score-reader, look like the Next Big Thing
"The show's going to be the show,"
Stewart said Tuesday. "We're just going to see how well I
can integrate into it.
"It's exciting for me because if you want
to be in New York and be in show business, there are only two
open jobs -- this, and being a Knicks City Dancer. Guess which
tryout went badly."
Having fed Kilborn to CBS and Politically
Incorrect to ABC, and seeing its British version of Whose
Line Is It Anyway? Americanized by ABC for a summer series,
Comedy Central has been having something of an identity crisis,
unsure whether it is a minor-league franchise feeding the majors
"We decided that's the league we play in
and we went out and hired, without question, the most talented
free agent on the market," Comedy Central boss Doug Herzog
Comedy Central spent free-agent money, too,
at least for a cable network. Stewart's four-year deal is worth
"I signed up for what?" Stewart said.
"I thought I was just ordering cable."
Stewart showed no interest in the post-Letterman
Late Late slot on CBS. He had a development deal with Letterman's
Worldwide Pants, producer of Late Late, but let it lapse.
Those who worked with him when he filled in
for Snyder said Stewart always seemed more focused in pursuing
a movie career -- he has a pair of feature films due in December
-- than another talk show.
"We talked about doing something"
following Snyder's 11:35 show on CBS, Stewart said. "Then,
when that sort of didn't go, we talked 2:30 (a.m.), and then around
3. By the time we were done, we were talking about `Sunrise Semester.'
So he is returning to cable. "I value my
anonymity," Stewart joked.
And while there is talk about intellectual property
rights and who owns such Daily Show set pieces as "Five
Questions," everyone involved seemed to think Kilborn would
get to CBS and Stewart to Comedy Central without a stop at Court
"We're not litigious people," Herzog
"I think you have the new slogan for Comedy
Central," Stewart said, " `We're not litigious people!'
Of course not. The last place con men want to
visit is a courtroom.