Late night television is going through a moment.
For the first time in eight years, there’s a big shift behind the desks coming in 2023 as the industry ponders the future of nightly and weekly talk shows.
In 2022, James Corden, as revealed by Deadline, announced he was leaving The late showTrevor Noah resigned from The daily showby Samantha Bee Full frontal was canceled by Warner Bros.’ cost-cutting plan. Discovery by David Zaslav, Desus & Mero fell and broke up, leaving their rising Showtime series.
The Big Three remained unchanged – Jimmy Kimmel signed a new contract to continue hosting ABC Jimmy Kimmel Live!, after deliberating to leave the nighttime slog, Jimmy Fallon has been in a new deal hosting NBC for a year The show tonight and Stephen Colbert continues comfortably at the top hosting CBS’s The Late Show and few expect him to leave any time soon.
Despite Full frontal cancellation, the late night is more diverse than before with Amber Ruffin buzzing for her Peacock show – and a co-sign from Colbert – and Ziwe, Charlamagne Tha God and Sam Jay all hosting weekly shows. The hope is that any late evening contraction does not affect this drive.
As CBS and Comedy Central prepare to fill their empty chairs, and the Emmys have changed their rules, which means John Oliver Last week tonight won’t win an eighth consecutive late-night Emmy (instead of competing against Saturday Night Live in a revamped strain category), there will be a lot of changes to come over the next twelve months.
But is this just the tip of the iceberg? Late night is a trickier business than before, the economy is tougher, especially as fewer and fewer people tune in to these shows live and the media environment creaks at the seams, and streaming n still hasn’t cracked the evening gossip.
Below, we offer five more predictions, some based on news reports and some based on sentiment, of what the late-night world will look like in 2023.
The Late Late Show: low budget, different show
James Corden is leaving the CBS show after eight and a half years, news announced by Deadline in April. His departure opened the door for the network to upend the way it operates its 12:30 a.m. show. The economy of late-night television has fundamentally changed since Brit took over in 2015, and Deadline understands the network is looking to cut the show’s budget significantly. The show currently costs just north of $60 million per year to produce and we learn that CBS is looking to bring that down to $35 million per year.
This will fundamentally affect how he approaches what the new show will look like and who will take over. CBS CEO and President George Cheeks told Deadline in May that he would experiment with the right “replacement format.” NBC’s own experiment with YouTube star Lilly Singh in its 1:30 a.m. slot didn’t quite work out, so it’s unlikely the network will just launch a TikTok star you’ve never heard of behind the desktop, but don’t be surprised if the next iteration of The late show looks very different from Corden’s run. You’d also be wise to bet the new gig isn’t going to another straight white man.
Seth Meyers to be crowned new SNL boss, NBC closes 12:30 a.m. slot
Seth Meyers, who was at Saturday Night Live between 2001 and 2014, has spent the last few months poking fun at rumors that he would take over the venerable NBC show when (if?) Lorne Michaels steps down.
Earlier this month, he orchestrated a fun Zoom video with his SNL friends Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph on who they think should take over. In March he said he felt “too old” to return to SNL and in October he told another alum SNL-uh, Leslie Jones, he said “no one can replace Lorne. If you don’t think with the money that Lorne Michaels made, he won’t get a special blood transfusion one day”.
Despite all that, it feels like Meyers is the perfect candidate to succeed Michaels, who has hinted that a “great time to go” would be around his 50s.e birthday in 2024.
If Meyers becomes the new Lorne Michaels, you can imagine that NBC could reduce or even close the 12:35 a.m. slot, which is also currently produced by Michaels. He closed the 1:30 a.m. slot previously held by Lilly Singh and although he extended Meyers’ deal to host the show until 2025 last year, he also explored the idea of getting rid of 10 p.m. dramas, so a closer look late at night is likely on the cards as well.
The Daily Show: Roy Wood Jr. and Desi Lydic will take over
Comedy Central is looking for a new host or hosts for The daily show. The network and its parent company Paramount Global have some time to make a decision, after unveiling a list of guest hosts, including Chelsea Handler and Kal Penn, taking over for the first part of the year. Deadline understands that one of the options on the table is opting for a weekend update type approach and appealing to more than one host. Two of the show’s correspondents, Roy Wood Jr. and Desi Lydic, are believed to be among the suggestions.
Such a decision could work for a number of reasons; the pair obviously know the show well and have grown their profiles over the past few years, there’s obviously a connection between them (see the recent Georgia Ninja Voter skit above), the optics of having both a black man and a woman would be good for diversity and, arguably most importantly, refreshing a concept that’s been on the air for over 25 years could be a creative boon. There’s always a chance that one of the guest hosts will pull off such a stellar performance (see John Oliver’s hosting The daily show in 2013) that they become undeniable or that someone like Ruffin may be tempted by a rival, but if I was a bettor, and I am, I would bet on Wood and Lydic.
CNN will launch its own late-night show
Chris Licht has had a tough ten months since taking over the CNN news network. There were rounds of layoffs, cuts in income, the shutdown of the fledgling CNN+, being called a “fascist” by former colleague Keith Olbermann and no longer considered a friend by his now boss David Zaslav.
However, Licht has changed things up in the past with MSNBC morning joe and CBS’ This morning and it is widely believed to be the reason why The Late Show with Stephen Colbert became a hit, reversing a drop in ratings and comfortably beating The show tonight.
Could a late-night show for his new home help him do the same on CNN? Licht is said to be watching space to revitalize the network and he recently told the New York Times that prime time is an “open canvas” and that he and his team are “throwing things up against the wall, looking off- the- beaten path opportunities.
Look what Gutfeld! did for Fox News. The late-night show, hosted by Greg Gutfeld, who also appears regularly on The Five, was a ratings success for the Murdoch-owned network. There’s an argument that Fox News viewers will watch whatever’s on the channel, but it’s also evident that it’s performing way above what was before with a looser conversational format.
Chelsea Handler will return late at night with a weekly show
Chelsea Handler didn’t shy away from her desire to return late at night. The comedian hosted Chelsea Lately on E! between 2007 and 2014, as well as chelsea on Netflix between 2016 and 2017.
This year, she invited Jimmy Kimmel Live!right after the Roe v Wade reversal, and in the new year will be a week late The daily show desk to exercise his muscles.
She’s unlikely to be online (or want) Late Late Show work (see above) and there is a lot of competition for Daily broadcasts permanent job, but you could definitely see Handler returning elsewhere.
She would be welcome, especially since after the release of Samantha Bee, Amber Ruffin is the only woman to host a regular weekly show (the Ziwe and Sam Jay shows have very short runs).
Handler recently told Seth Meyers Late at night what she would call her new show Chelsea later. “I didn’t fail to do that until I did it again, and I remembered it. I was like ‘Oh, that’s exactly what I’m made for’… being able to comment on things in real time on a platform. There’s a shortage of women doing this and it’s not cool anymore, so I’m definitely going to get back into the mix and do it again,” she said.
And finally… John Oliver will resign
John Oliver has signed on to host HBO shows Last week tonight until 2023. The former Daily show The Correspondent has had an incredibly successful run since taking office in 2014, winning the Late Night Emmy seven years in a row. Will he continue this year or will he win?
The Emmys have already made it harder for him to continue his winning streak, moving his speech show to a new category, Scripted Variety Series, where he will face off against the perennial winner. SNL.
The lawless comedian also enjoys throwing rocks at his own home. He routinely poked fun at AT&T “business daddy” owners and it hasn’t stopped since the folks at Discovery took over Warner Bros. “People don’t usually openly shit about their employers unless, of course, that employer is Warner Bros. Discovery,” he said last month. “In that case, you can happily run away because apparently they’re too busy canceling shows to notice.”
He encouraged the new owners to follow AT&T’s “Victorian wedding” model and “leave us alone,” but whether Zaz and his team have the guts for it is another question.