Monday, September 07, 2015

TV Watch: We've hit T-minus-one-day in the countdown to "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert"


Stephen C reveals: "I'm really mostly a hoofer. Mostly song and dance."

by Ken

The wait is over, just about. Tomorrow night The Late Show with Stephen Colbert debuts on CBS, and as's Emily Yahr notes ("What can we learn about Stephen Colbert’s 'Late Show' from his first two weeks of guests?"), the first two weeks' worth of guests have been announced, giving rise to much analysis and speculation.

Here's the list:
Tuesday, Sept. 8: Actor George Clooney; Jeb Bush; house band Jon Batiste and Stay Human
Wednesday, Sept. 9: Actress Scarlett Johansson; SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk; rapper Kendrick Lamar
Thursday, Sept. 10: Vice President Joe Biden; Uber CEO Travis Kalanick; country singer Toby Keith
Friday, Sept. 11: Comedian Amy Schumer; author Stephen King; Paul Simon tribute band Troubled Waters

Monday, Sept. 14: Actress Emily Blunt; Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer; Jack White’s rock band the Dead Weather
Tuesday, Sept. 15: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal; hip-hop duo Run the Jewels with indie band TV on the Radio
Wednesday, Sept. 16: Actor Kevin Spacey; actress Carol Burnett with comedians Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer; country singer Willie Nelson
Thursday, Sept. 17: Actress Naomi Watts; United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
Friday, Sept. 18: Actress Lupita Nyong’o; Senator Bernie Sanders; “An American in Paris” director Christopher Wheeldon with stars Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope
As Emily says in the lead to her post: "You can tell a lot about a late-night host by his guests." And now you have that information. So, good night and good news!


Now I can't tell all that much from this list. Fortunately, Emily "decided to parse the list for clues about what direction [Stephen] might be taking 'The Late Show.' " And as long as she's looking in her crystal ball, it seems foolhardy for us not to watch over her shoulder. And here's what she has gleaned:
* Colbert will have substantive interviews with non-celebrities.

You would think this would go without saying, but, well… have you tuned in to “The Tonight Show” lately? For those worried Colbert would go the lip-syncing route, that probably won’t be the case given his inclusion of guests like United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Two high-powered tech CEOs will also make an appearance: Both Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk and Uber’s Travis Kalanick are slated to sit on the couch this week. Both could yield fascinating conversations, and Colbert doesn’t seem like the type to ignore Tesla controversies or Uber’s recent slew of bad press.

* The “Colbert Report” habits will be hard to shake.

Colbert already has a heavy dose of politicians lined up, from Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Now with his new broadcast platform, he was able to book Vice President Joe Biden, whom CBS recently announced will stop by on Sept. 10. He also landed an interview with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, with whom there’s no shortage of polarizing subjects to discuss.

Just like on his old show, Colbert isn’t afraid of insulting politicians: He’s already publicly slammed Bush for using his “Late Show” appearance as a political fundraiser, raffling off a ticket to be in the audience.

* He won’t forget the lesser-known performers.

Of course Colbert has an impressive line-up of A-listers scheduled for the first two weeks: George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Kevin Spacey, Lupita Nyong’o and Carol Burnett along with this summer’s red-hot comedian Amy Schumer.

But he’ll also host Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, stars of “Broad City,” the comedy from Colbert’s former network home. While beloved among the YouTube set, they’re far from household names – so Colbert isn’t forgetting his cable roots. That goes for musicians, too. In addition to names like Kendrick Lamar and Willie Nelson, Colbert will host Troubled Waters, a little-known Paul Simon tribute band.

* New York City will still have an important role.

David Letterman’s “Late Show” was frequently a love letter to New York City and it seems like Colbert could keep the same tradition: Colbert will interview Broadway’s “American in Paris” director Christopher Wheeldon, and stars Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope will both perform. It helps that Colbert – a singer himself – is a big fan of theater and performed on the Tony Awards.
One thing for sure: That concern Stephen voices in the clip about Donald Trump disappearing on him, for these couple of weeks, at least, I don't think he has to worry.

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