Spinoff plan: to spoof `cult of personality'

October 16, 2005|By THE ORLANDO SENTINEL

Nothing says success like a spinoff.

Law & Order and CSI have taught viewers that lesson repeatedly, and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart hopes to follow their example. Comedy Central's Emmy-winning variety series gives birth to the show immediately after it: The Colbert Report, which makes its debut tomorrow at 11:30 p.m.

The Daily Show has become a phenomenon for mocking newscasts. The Colbert Report, which elevates correspondent Stephen Colbert to host, spoofs Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor and other personality-driven programs.

"My character is not based on (Bill) O'Reilly," Colbert says. No, it's the idiot that Colbert has played to perfection. In a phone interview, Colbert, with sarcastic flourish, points to two other journalists as his heroes: Stone Phillips of Dateline NBC and Geraldo Rivera of Fox News Channel.

"Geraldo gives you a sense of mission. He seems to change the world with every story. I love the ego. You put those two together, you get this sexy package of manliness and mission. I just love it."

Colbert points to other targets for parody: Sean Hannity of Fox News, Joe Scarborough of MSNBC, Anderson Cooper and Aaron Brown of CNN.

"They're all cult of personality," Colbert says. "People don't come there for news. They come there for that guy's take on it." The Colbert Report will tape earlier in the evening before it airs. The host serves as ultimate editor over the writing staff. On The Daily Show, Stewart will toss to Colbert to preview The Colbert Report. Colbert says he draws advice from Stewart, who's an executive producer on the new show.

"He looks at our scripts," Colbert says. "He says where you'll find the most fruit. His instincts are maddeningly good. I don't recommend going to the mat with him over a comedic idea. He's a great resource for me."

Colbert attributes the success of The Daily Show to 24-hour news.

"It's flooded us with information," he says. "It's exhausting. People say, `Do you think you're influential?' We're like a relief. We're a sorbet. We cleanse America's palate for another day of news."

The main challenge for The Colbert Report: Does America crave a second sorbet each evening?

THE COLBERT REPORT

Starring Stephen Colbert, the show is to air Monday through Friday, and makes its debut tomorrow at 11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.

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