As you've probably heard, David Letterman announced he's retiring from late night in 2015, and succession talk started the second that was announced. Mashable reports today that Stephen Colbert is CBS's top choice to take over Late Show in 2015 and that he is interested in the job, according to their anonymous sources in both Colbert's camp and at CBS. The report says that Colbert hasn't had any formal negotiations with the network and has no agreement in place but that he had engaged with CBS execs about the job prior to Letterman announcing his retirement. "We’re not commenting on any rumors or speculation about succession," a CBS spokesman said, and Comedy Central had no comment. Entertainment blogger Nikki Finke has also cited anonymous sources that Colbert is the top choice.
Mashable's report adds that, although Craig Ferguson has a stipulation in his contract guaranteeing him to inherit Letterman's show (something CBS can buy him out of if they want), Ferguson has "never been seen as the heir apparent" by the network. According to the report, Stephen Colbert's Comedy Central counterpart Jon Stewart was at one point considered to be a candidate, but Stewart, who just took some time off from The Daily Show to direct his first movie, is said to be more interested in pursuing that project and other non-late night show stuff, rather than moving to CBS.
Stephen Colbert's contract with Comedy Central runs out at the end of 2014, leaving him wide open for the job. A date for Letterman's last show has yet to be set, but Letterman has said that it will be at least a year out from yesterday, sometime in 2015. If Colbert is selected for the job (and accepts it), he'll have to leave his faux-conservative pundit character behind and do five one-hour shows a week instead of four half-hour ones, but it sounds like he's up to the challenge. A year's a long time, and these anonymous sources could be wrong and things could change, but all intel right now points to Colbert being the number one contender to become the second host of CBS's Late Show.