Late night television on CBS has gone through some serious changes over the past year. Longtime Late Show host David Letterman departed and was replaced by Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The show has continued to go through changes since Colbert took the top job in September of 2015, and the latest shake-up is a big one. Executive producer Meredith Bennett has officially left The Late Show.
Meredith Bennett’s roles on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert involved business and production, according to Variety. She had previously collaborated with Stephen Colbert during his tenure as host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, and she chose to move to CBS rather than stop working with Colbert once he made the decision to leave.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert recently signed former CBS This Morning producer Chris Licht as executive producer and showrunner, so Meredith Bennett’s departure shouldn’t leave much of a vacuum behind-the-scenes. In fact, Chris Licht signing on as executive producer had been a major sign that CBS was revamping The Late Show. The first months of Stephen Colbert’s tenure on CBS saw Colbert maintaining control on most aspects of production. CBS president Les Moonves came to the conclusion that Colbert’s preoccupation with production issues such as budget and scripts was detracting from his performance as host, and The Late Show was suffering as a result. Colbert give his stamp of approval to Chris Licht as showrunner, and Late Show ratings have seen a slight improvement in the weeks since Licht’s arrival.
It should be interesting to see if and how Stephen Colbert’s performance will be any different after the departure of Meredith Bennett. Chris Licht’s arrival seems to have helped Colbert regain his ability to hold an audience, but there’s no saying just yet if Colbert needed both Bennett and Licht around to help get back on track. We’ll have to wait and watch to see if his focus on his performance holds over the coming months.
Stephen Colbert has more than proved himself capable of engaging viewers and bringing the laughs on a nightly basis, so CBS' decision to take steps to bring him back to his best by shifting production responsibilities to other folks at The Late Show has the potential to bring positive changes to the program. Meredith Bennett leaving the series is yet another step in cutting ties between The Late Show and The Colbert Report, which may actually help Colbert develop a wider audience on CBS in the future. He presents a different version of himself on The Late Show than he did on The Colbert Report, and perhaps the fresh eyes of Chris Licht will turn out to be exactly what Colbert needs to become a bigger hit on network television. Hopefully, Meredith Bennett will find a home at a new show in the near future.
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