BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Stephen Colbert’s personal plea to Donald Trump: “Please stay healthy until I get [back] on the air.”
“Every night before I go to bed, I light a candle and I pray that he stays in the race,” the incoming host of CBS’ “The Late Show” said. “I also pray that no one puts that candle anywhere near his hair!”
Colbert, 51, takes over the seat occupied for more than two decades by David Letterman on September 8.
His first guest is actor George Clooney.
The former Comedy Central star will again compete directly against longtime pals Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, who have turned the 11:35 p.m. time slot into a late night variety hour, with impromptu game segments, karaoke competitions and other made-for-YouTube content.
Colbert — by contrast — “considers himself of Dave’s generation,” CBS programming boss Nina Tassler told TV critics in Los Angeles on Monday.
“I don’t want to produce viral videos,” the comic confirmed. “I am going to do a show and hopefully people will share it.”
For the moment, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” remains a work in progress.
Here’s what we know so far:
-- He’s retired his longtime persona from “The Colbert Report.”
-- Jazz great Jon Batiste will lead the band.
-- There will be approximately 15 guests per week.
-- His desk will be moved to the opposite side of a newly-designed stage.
“We have 202 [shows] a year. We are going to find what is right for me,” he said. “I don’t feel like I have to come right out of the gate knowing everything. I would like to have enough humility to find it as I go.”
Colbert also said he doesn’t expect to engage in any Leno-Letterman style rivalries.
“The idea of war between hosts makes no sense to me,” he insisted. “It’s not like my success takes away from anyone else. And fighting amongst each other doesn’t sound funny. There is no joke there. So I am not interested.”
He added, “I didn’t play a lot of sports when I was younger, so maybe I missed the competitive gene. Competition isn’t that fun to me. We are competing against ourselves to have fun on the show. I hope everybody does the same and has fantastic ratings.”
“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” premieres September 8 on CBS.