Introducing himself as a heavyweight boxer before offering reporters fresh underwear (much obliged!), Stephen Colbert on Monday revealed his plans to revamp The Late Show from the ground up — literally.
“Our set is being built right now at the Ed Sullivan Theater,” the incoming host began during the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills. “The theater’s been completely gutted… it’s been taken back to its 1927 beautiful state. We’re building the Late Show set within the context of a Broadway theater. I find it a very intimate setting now, because we acknowledge that we’re in a theater together.”
And there’s no question about who Colbert will get intimate with first — at least musically.
“My last musical guest [on The Colbert Report] was Kendrick Lamar, and I’d love for him to be my first musical guest,” Colbert said. “In fact, he will be my first musical guest.”
Read on for more of Colbert’s teases for his new show:
On his first (non-musical) guest: “I wish I could have done better than George Clooney, but he’ll do for the first guest. I hope someone let him know. It’ll be awkward if he doesn’t show up on Sept. 8. How many celebrities have their own spy satellite? I want to ask him if I can have the keys.”
On the show’s “new” format: “CBS has asked nothing of me other than I fill an hour every night. The format hasn’t changed. I love the grind of a daily show, I love a live audience. They haven’t asked me to change or do anything. They liked the show I used to do and they asked, ‘Do you mind adding another 120 hours a year?'”
On the “real” Stephen Colbert: “If you’re wondering who the real Stephen Colbert is, there’s a supercut of me breaking character the entire time… That guy who can’t stop laughing, that‘s the real Stephen Colbert. I can’t wait for that to be the only guy you see.”
On why he chose Jon Batiste as his bandleader: “It was almost immediate. I had Jon Batiste on the show… and the minute he sat down across from me and challenged me if I could improvise, I thought… I could spent a few years on stage with this guy. Our people talked to each other, it turned out he was interested in the idea. … I can’t wait to play off his energy on stage.”
On his decision to drop his Colbert Report character: “I felt I’d done everything I could do at that show other than have honest interest in my guests, which is almost constant. Now I feel more freed up. That was the most energetic, exciting part of the show, and now I don’t have to hold back anymore.”
On his Daily Show finale appearance: “I felt like a rodeo clown trying to keep [Jon Stewart] on that stage. I honestly thought he was going to leave. When Steve Carell [and all the former correspondents did the group hug] we were all chanting, ‘Made him cry! Made him cry!’ I think that might be my favorite thing I ever did on The Daily Show.”
Your thoughts on Colbert’s version of The Late Show? Hopes? Fears? Drop ’em all in a comment below.