NEW YORK (AP) – If Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart is the comic version of Peter Jennings or Brian Williams, Stephen Colbert promises to be the same for Bill O’Reilly and others like him.
“The Daily Show” regular will star each night in “The Colbert Report,” likely starting in September. Comedy Central is revamping its schedule, recognizing that late-night programming is essentially prime time for its youthful audience.
“It’s as if my character on ‘The Daily Show’ got promoted,” Colbert told The Associated Press.
He’ll be a “very well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot, not unlike some people who have these shows in the real world,” he said.
Besides lampooning O’Reilly, the king of the cable TV opinion shows, he’s sending up people such as Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough and Anderson Cooper, he said.
One segment of his show, “Worthy Opponent,” will feature Colbert debating Colbert.
“I always wanted to do more with this character,” he said. While “The Daily Show” skewers reporters, its primary focus is on newsmakers. “The Colbert Report” will look full time at the news process, with a backstage look at his character and interview subjects.
Colbert and fellow executive producers Stewart and Ben Karlin came up with the idea for the show after following reports of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against O’Reilly last year. The lawsuit was settled out of court.
The extra workload means he’ll sharply curtail appearances on “The Daily Show,” he said.
The series will air four nights a week, as will an untitled show with Adam Carolla that pokes fun at pop culture events of the day. Carolla’s show will have a celebrity guest and viewer participation.
The two shows will directly follow “The Daily Show,” which airs Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. Eastern. Comedy Central hasn’t decided which will come first, spokesman Tony Fox said.
Comedy Central has also committed to “Weekends at the DL,” a talk show with comedian D.L. Hughley that will air Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11 p.m.
Comedy Central usually gets as many viewers during the late-night hours as it does during traditional network prime time (8-to-11 p.m.). It will often have as many viewers at 4 a.m. as it does at 6 p.m., network researchers said.
“Jon and ‘The Daily Show’ bring (viewers) to Comedy Central each night and we feel that Stephen, Adam and D.L. will give them a reason to stay with the channel late into the night,” said Doug Herzog, Comedy Central president.