Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman

(RNN) - CBS has named Stephen Colbert as new host of the Late Show, effective when David Letterman retires.

"Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television," CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves said in a statement Thursday. "David Letterman's legacy and accomplishments are an incredible source of pride for all of us here, and today's announcement speaks to our commitment of upholding what he established for CBS in late night."

Since its launch on Comedy Central in 2005, The Colbert Report has earned two Peabody Awards and 27 Emmy nominations.

Colbert's current contract will expire at year's end. He signed a five-year deal to host Late Show.

Letterman, the legendary, critically acclaimed host surprised his audience April 3 by announcing that he's signing off for good next year.

After 33 years as a late-night TV host, the 66-year-old will retire when his contract expires in 2015.

"Stephen has always been a real friend to me. I'm very excited for him, and I'm flattered that CBS chose him. I also happen to know they wanted another guy with glasses," Letterman said in a statement to CBS.

Colbert, 49, has also enjoyed success as the author of two New York Times best-selling books, I Am America (and So Can You!) and America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't. He said he's "thrilled and grateful" for the opportunity.

"Simply being a guest on David Letterman's show has been a highlight of my career," Colbert said in a news release. "I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave's lead."

The announcement came two months after Jimmy Fallon took the reins of NBC's Tonight Show. On some nights, the new host has nearly doubled Letterman's ratings.

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