CNN Wants Jon Stewart or Bill Maher to Be Its ‘Gutfeld!’
Oh man, Greg Gutfeld is absolutely going to feast on the report that CNN is looking to launch a late-night comedy show. If he didn’t consider himself the king of late night before, the Fox News comedy commentator surely will now.
The CNN comedy show is the brainchild of new head honcho Chris Licht, formerly the producer of Gutfeld’s main competition for late-night supremacy, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. And if Licht has his way, Jon Stewart (still under contract with Apple) would lead a hilarious block of programming that would run every weeknight from 9 - 11 PM. Industry scuttlebutt has bad boy Bill Maher as another contender for host, an easy transfer across the hall since Maher is already employed by CNN overlord Warner Bros. Discovery. Even if Maher doesn’t come aboard, says Puck’s Matt Belloni, CNN is looking into running some of his HBO segments to demonstrate that corporate synergy. Also allegedly in the running for the hosting gig? Arsenio Hall (King of Late Night, 1992 edition) and Trevor Noah (though why he’d want to do this gig again makes no sense).
Comedy at CNN? Why, exactly? And why now? Gutfeld's success is an obvious inspiration. Look at it as part of Licht’s blueprint to transform CNN from its hyper-partisan Trump years into a channel with broader appeal. Rather than simply going for a bigger slice of the news pie, Licht’s plan would not only grab liberal news junkies from MSNBC but also swipe viewers from outlets like HGTV, ESPN, and Netflix.
That all sounds like great strategy except … has Licht gotten the memo that late-night comedy is in trouble? Media analyst and late-night historian Bill Carter recently sounded the alarm, ironically in a CNN opinion piece. Samantha Bee, Conan O’Brien, and Desus & Mero no longer have their old gigs, and word is that both The Daily Show and the post-James Corden version of CBS’s Late Late Show will be revamped with dramatically lower budgets. If Licht is looking for a savior, he’s picking an odd one in late-night comedy.
But he’s not the only one. Rumor has it that Late Night with Seth Meyers might be on the move to MSNBC, another example of a goofy talk show taking over the news. Does this mean all of our cable news channels are destined to become comedy platforms? Given that many Americans considered Stewart’s Daily Show their main source of news anyway, we’re likely only heading toward the inevitable. We can hear Gutfeld gloating already.