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Stephen Colbert snags 'Late Show' hosting job from David Letterman

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CBS wasted no time in naming Stephen Colbert as successor to David Letterman Thursday. Stephen Colbert reportedly inked a five-year deal to take over "The Late Show" when Letterman steps down, according to USA Today on April 10.

Colbert, 49, was apparently the early front-runner to succeed Dave, 66, at CBS. He started out as one of a number of correspondents on John Stewart’s "The Daily Show," who gained fame from that Comedy Central late night show.

Colbert earned his own show back in 2005, "The Colbert Report," which is produced by Stewart and follows his time slot. No date has yet been released for when he’ll succeed Letterman, whose contract doesn’t officially expire until August of 2015.

However, Colbert’s contract with his Comedy Central show is finished at the end of this year. There’s speculation Dave may step down from his late night duties before his contract runs out.

Dave’s career spans 33 years in late night. He spent the first 22 years following Carson’s show on NBC. When he was passed over for Jay Leno to replace Johnny when he retired, Letterman jumped ship to CBS, where he moved his show up an hour to compete head to head with "The Tonight Show."

One reason Stephen Colbert likely snagged the coveted late night hosting spot is that his current demographic draws the much advertiser-sought younger viewers. But, insiders agree he’ll likely have to tone down his current shtick to appeal to a larger audience in an hour-long format.

"Simply being a guest on David Letterman's show has been a highlight of my career," Colbert’s statement read, adding, "I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave's lead. I'm thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth."

According to CBS News, "The Colbert Report" has earned two Peabody Awards along with 27 Emmy nominations. The show finally won the big Emmy in 2013 for outstanding variety series. The series has also won Emmy’s for outstanding writing for a variety, music or comedy program in 2008, 2010 and 2013.

Colbert is a Northwestern University graduate and was once a member of Chicago's acclaimed Second City improv troupe. Some of that group's prestigious alums include John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Carell, Colbert and Tina Fey

Wednesday, Stephen's pal John Stewart openly threw his support behind Colbert. Stewart said his friend and cohort has the perfect skills for the job.

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