Colbert Shakes His Moneymaker for Stations

Stephen Colbert recently concluded what he called an “epic journey” that involved meeting with CBS affiliates from around the nation. Describing the trip on the 8/25 installment of his Late Show podcast, Colbert set up shop at CBS-owned KTVT Dallas, where affiliate talent within driving/relatively short flying distance turned up to shoot interviews and promos with the incoming Late Show host.

Vinny Favale, VP of late night programming, east coast, explained the network-affiliate model to Colbert and to listeners, and described the CBS O&Os as “super-affiliates.”

Colbert sat for 46 interviews with stations, he said, and did 2-3 promos for each. He, Favale and writer Rob Dubbin had some fun with local news clichés, including the “fake turn to the camera, raise eyebrows and fold arms” promo that local anchors have performed for almost as long as local news has been around, Colbert noting how he used to do that, tongue in cheek, when he first started on The Daily Show back in the Craig Kilborn-hosted era.

“The funny thing is, they were making fun of them too,” Colbert says of the affiliate reps, “[saying] these are so stupid we don’t know why we have to do them.”

The trio spoke about station owners and local brands (“7 on Your Side” was their personal favorite), and Colbert mentioned the anchor interviews as a fun way to warm up for his Late Show role, which starts September 8.

“I’m so desperate to do a show that the interviews with affiliates and the press the flesh was actually very enjoyable,” he said, noting the peculiar practice of selling the program to “people who’ve already bought it.”

Colbert and his party also had a stop in Chicago, and were out west at the TCA’s press tour. It sounds like he enjoyed the affiliate meetings more than he did TCA. “You go on stage in a room from where all happiness has been removed,” said Colbert of the setting at the Beverly Hilton.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.