As you might have heard if you enjoy checking the social media tool Twitter, David Letterman is plotting retirement from his talk show at the end of his contract in 2015. Every single person who takes breath on this green earth has already been suggested for the job, but we tried to clear out the detritus and examine a few of the possible candidates to replace the big man.
The too-safe choice: Craig Ferguson
Ferguson has been doing strong work in the 12:35 slot behind Dave for nine years now, carving out a devoted audience with his deeply personal monologues and freewheeling conversations with guests. But is his brand of humor too specific for the big show? Unlike with Fallon on NBC, Ferguson has never been universally touted as the heir apparent. But CBS knows him, and his contract includes a right of first refusal to the Late Show slot (which the network could easily buy him out of, so it's not as important as it sounds).
The choice Louis C.K. predicted, part one: Jerry Seinfeld
Seinfeld, one of the faux-candidates in Louie's epic Letterman trilogy, would certainly be one of the first names out of Les Moonves' mouth upon hearing this news. But why would Seinfeld, who has worked sporadically and carefully since ending his sitcom in 1998, take such a grueling job?
The choice Louis C.K. predicted, part two: Chris Rock
We all miss The Chris Rock Show. Hell, we all miss Chris Rock being funny on a regular basis. This is the kind of star pick that seems in the realm of plausibility, and it'd bring diversity to a landscape that is crying out for it. But again, Rock would need to want to do it. There's no real indication that he does.
The choice Louis C.K. predicted, part three: Louis C.K.
Not gonna happen: Chelsea Handler
People keep bringing up Chelsea Handler, who recently announced plans to end her talk show Chelsea Lately. Here's a conversation that's not happening at CBS right now: "Hey, we should hire the person whose talk show ratings were considered crappy on the E! network!"
The troll's choice: Jay Leno
If CBS are straight up evil bastards, this will happen. Note: if this happens, Dave Letterman will make sure to return and take this job away from him as soon as possible. A more likely scenario: Jay Leno issues a press release saying he doesn't think he's interested in the job but is always open to anything, and everyone rolls their eyes.
Talk show hosts on the air right now
Jon Stewart is a name long bandied about for the Late Show chair, but would be a annoyingly safe and inordinately expensive choice for CBS. One also wonders whether he could keep brow-beating the news on a talk show that's always had a fluffier edge. The same goes for Stephen Colbert, who would certainly need to drop character for CBS. (Many tweeters, including Nikki Finke, are claiming Colbert is first in CBS' line).
Carson Daly hosts a late-night talk show on NBC. Let us never speak his name again.
Conan O'Brien, Pete Holmes, Chris Hardwick and a bunch of other white dudes host late night talk shows. There's no reason CBS would look to poach someone from a smaller network for this job.
A Goddamn Woman for Crying Out Loud
Late night television, where job turnover is as low as possible, is a depressingly homogenous environment. The hiring of Seth Meyers to replace Jimmy Fallon at NBC was, for the first time, greeted with real pushback. If CBS wants to make an instant splash, there are many talented women who could knock this show out of the park. Tina Fey has a ton of shows in the works and no real reason to take the job, and the same goes for Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig, but prepare to hear their names mentioned. Ellen DeGeneres would be the kind of splashy hire CBS might want, but she's already the biggest name in the more-lucrative field of daytime talk.
Other great suggestions floating around the internet include Amy Sedaris (she has a relationship with CBS! She was on The Good Wife!), Amy Schumer (of her titular Comedy Central sketch show), Jen Kirkman (a brilliant stand-up and Chelsea Lately panelist), Jessica Williams (who has done great work on The Daily Show), Cameron Esposito (who earned the praise of Jay Leno himself on a recent Late Late Show appearance), and many many more.
Or, CBS could just go ahead and blow up the internet right now:
I love Letterman but I am really excited about what this could mean for the diversification of late night. Trying not to be a pessimist...— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) April 3, 2014
She doesn't even know it yet, but she's tossed her name in the ring. This thing only gets crazier from here.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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