What Stephen Colbert says about Trump as opening night nears

AP News
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Posted: Aug 11, 2015 3:12 AM
What Stephen Colbert says about Trump as opening night nears

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — A roundup of news Monday from the Television Critics Association summer meeting, at which TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs:

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COLBERT'S BURNING PASSION

With Donald Trump's presidential bid generating news as well as comedy gold, Stephen Colbert is itching to get his share of the laughs once he returns to the air Sept. 8 as host of CBS' "The Late Show."

"Every night I light a candle that he stays in the race until Sept. 8," Colbert says. "But I also hope that nobody gets that candle too close to his hair."

Other things he said during this session: George Clooney will guest on opening night, with Kendrick Lamar (who performed on the final "Colbert Report" last fall) his first musical guest.

— He's pledging to maintain the eclectic mix of guests he hosted on "The Colbert Report," including artists, intellectuals, "politicians of all stripes," and even ordinary folks: "Somebody who's not famous but who's got something to say, I think that would be the perfect guest to have."

"I'm a comedian, but my favorite thing on the ('Report') became doing the interviews," he added — not the scripted material. "I got into comedy to do improvisation. When you're interviewing people, you don't know what's going to happen, and that's much closer to how I learned my craft."

— He and his staff moved into the offices above Manhattan's Ed Sullivan Theater — former home of David Letterman and his "Late Show" — only last week, and the set is under construction now. Among the physical changes from Dave's decades-long reign: the host desk will be found across the stage.

— He said he likes his soon-to-be-rival, Jimmy Fallon, and admires Fallon's "Tonight Show," and he declared any lingering traces of the Late Night Wars to be over: "The idea of war between hosts makes no sense to me. ... I didn't play a lot of sports when I was younger, so maybe I missed the competitive gene. Competition's not that fun to me. We're competing with ourselves to have fun on the show."

— CBS is giving Colbert a free hand to do the show he wants to do: "There have been no instructions. I think they liked what we did and are hoping we do more."

— But now he just wants to stop talking about "The Late Show" and get started doing it: "I don't like comedy in theory. That's just theology. I want to get to the religion!"

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UNCONVENTIONAL APPROACH

CBS News will overhaul its coverage of the 2016 Democratic and Republican conventions to emphasize participants "on the ground" rather than chatter in the network's skybox, CBS News President David Rhodes said.

Dismissing any predictions of a candidate's selection coming down to the convention wire — "It's not going to happen," he said — Rhodes said there is news being made by decision-makers and others at the convention.

He said his bias is toward coverage of what they are doing and saying as opposed to putting resources into the "air-conditioned skyboxes" above the convention floor that typically showcase network reporters and analysts.

Traditional keynote speeches and other major scheduled events will be aired, he said. But there is an ongoing "dance" between the political parties and networks over coverage, with all involved spending "a lot of money" on the conventions, Rhodes said.

CBS is on to tap to air primary election debates for the Democratic and Republican presidential contenders, with the network airing the Nov. 14 Democratic debate and the GOP one set for Feb. 13. Both are Saturday nights, which typically attract smaller TV audiences.

The moderator for each will be John Dickerson, CBS News' political director and anchor of "Face the Nation," Rhodes said.

He was asked if CBS would limit the number of candidates, as Fox News Channel did — using poll numbers — for the first Republican candidate debate last week. The first Democratic debate is set for Oct. 13 in Nevada.

In a "perfect world," every candidate would be able to participate, he said, but a line has to be drawn given large candidate fields. He said the formula for the CBS-aired debates would be made closer to the dates.

Dickerson, who recently succeeded the retired Bob Schieffer as host of "Face the Nation," spoke with relish about covering the '16 election, and not just because of GOP contender Donald Trump or the unexpected candidacy of Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders.

"This was going to be an exciting election before it became the Summer of Trump," because both parties will be picking candidates in the absence of an incumbent president running, Dickerson said.

Add to that the feeling of many Americans that politics is "rigged" against them and their worries about major issues including terrorism and it makes for an energized political climate, he said.

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SUPERGIRL, SUPER ACTRESS

The producers of "Supergirl" say Melissa Benoist was the first actress they saw for the role of Kara Zor-El, the caped cousin of Superman. Executive producer Greg Berlanti describes her portrayal as "the most evocative since Christopher Reeves," who played Superman.

Superman's presence will be felt in "Supergirl," but he won't be seen.

"He will be a back-burnered life," said Geoff Johns, DC Comics chief creative officer. "You won't see him exactly on-screen. You will see him in the background, but he does play a part in her evolution of becoming a superhero."

The idea of a crossover among characters from Greg Berlanti's other superhero CW shows, "Arrow," ''The Flash" and the upcoming "Legends of Tomorrow," came up almost immediately when "Supergirl" was announced by CBS. That's not in the cards at this point.

"We have obviously to make the shows really stand on their own," said Berlanti. "I always approach these things as a fan myself and I always love when there's a bigger universe at work, but at the same time these shows really have to function on their own."

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A FITTING GOODBYE FOR 'CSI'

CBS is promising that the "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" series finale won't disappoint.

"This will be a very satisfying ending for all the 'CSI' fans," CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler said.

"CSI," which debuted in 2000, will wrap with a two-hour finale on Sept. 27. Original cast members including William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger are returning for the send-off.

Tassler said the reunion was bittersweet. But the franchise lives on with the latest spinoff, "CSI: Cyber," which returns for its second season with Patricia Arquette and "CSI" star Ted Danson coming aboard.

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WIFE PLEASER

James Brolin says wife Barbra Streisand is delighted with his role on the new sitcom "Life in Pieces."

"'Oh, boy, great. Go to work!'" was her reaction, a smiling Brolin said. "'Get out of the house, get out of the hammock.'"

"Life in Pieces" tells the story of an extended family through its milestone moments. For patriarch John, played by Brolin, that includes staging a cheerful mock funeral to mark his 70th birthday.

The half-hour series' ensemble cast also includes Dianne Wiest, Zoe Lister-Jones, Colin Hanks and Betsy Brandt. It debuts Sept. 21.

Brolin, 75, joked that he was reconsidering taking the job.

"Malibu in the summer, in the hammock," he said, referring to the seaside Southern California city where he and Streisand live. "I'm surprised I'm working."