Craig Ferguson will no longer be the host of CBS’ The Late Late Show as of the end of the year. He announced the departure during the taping of tonight’s show not as a divorce but as he and the network “consciously uncoupling.” It also marks a complete revamp of CBS’ late-night lineup, kicked off by the retirement of David Letterman, who will be replaced by Stephen Colbert. Letterman’s company, Worldwide Pants, produced Ferguson’s Late Late Show, and according to this Hollywood Reporter article, Worldwide Pants is going to be getting out of the producing game after Letterman departs television. Ferguson’s contract is up at the end of the year, and there had been rumors (since dismissed) that Chelsea Handler was being considered for the hosting job on the show, which sort of felt like the cruelest joke CBS could possibly play on all of those who wish the late-night talk-show game would try somebody who wasn’t white or male for once.
CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler said, “During his 10 years as host, Craig has elevated CBS to new creative and competitive heights at 12:30. He infused the broadcast with tremendous energy, unique comedy, insightful interviews and some of the most heartfelt monologues seen on television. Craig’s versatile talents as a writer, producer, actor and comedian speak to his great days ahead. While we’ll miss Craig and can’t thank him enough for his contributions to both the show and the network, we respect his decision to move on, and we look forward to celebrating his final broadcasts during the next eight months.”
Ferguson’s next job will come hosting the syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game. He ends an almost 10-year run (from January of 2005 to December of 2014) with the network that netted him a Peabody and some degree of critical acclaim (including from this very website) but little of the wider recognition that greeted many of his competitors. His monologues were often among the very best things on TV, and his roster of recurring characters—particularly robot cohost Geoff Peterson and dancing horse Secretariat—was among the most fun in late night. He likely wasn’t a great fit for Letterman’s job, as the late-night game is increasingly about drawing younger viewers, and that’s often been his biggest weakness, ratings-wise. But it’s still sad to see him go, though we expect if anybody in late night is going to have the TV equivalent of a going out of business sale in his final months, it will be Craig Ferguson. Come for the flirtatious banter with Kristen Bell; stay for the possibility that you might get to buy a horse costume for two at a ridiculously low price.