'Daily Show' Correspondent Readies 'The Colbert Report'

Robert Siegel talks with the Daily Show's Stephen Colbert about his new program, which is scheduled to air on Comedy Central this fall. The Colbert Report will be fashioned as a satire of TV talk shows such as The O'Reilly Factor.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Fans of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central will soon have a companion program to stay tuned for. Stephen Colbert, who contributes to the fake news show with fake correspondent reports, is getting his own show, which we hear will do for cable personality talk shows what Jon Stewart's program has done for the evening news. If you're not familiar with Stephen Colbert's work, here's an example. He's explaining to Jon Stewart what a big Southern megachurch is like.

(Soundbite of "The Daily Show"; applause)

Mr. JON STEWART (Host, "The Daily Show"): It is one of those megachurches, Stephen. Tell me about these megachurches.

Mr. STEPHEN COLBERT (Correspondent, "The Daily Show"): Well, Jon, this one begins in Georgia, goes up through the Carolinas and then just touches on eastern Kentucky. It's huge, Jon, towers of glass and steel, thousands of seats, a food court. It even has its own red light district.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Stephen Colbert on "The Daily Show." And he joins us from New York right now.

Mr. COLBERT: Hello.

SIEGEL: What's this new show going to be called?

Mr. COLBERT: "The Colbert Report." (pronounced re-PORE)

SIEGEL: "Report"? (pronounced re-PORE)

Mr. COLBERT: Two silent T's.

SIEGEL: So you should sound French in both cases. What kind of program is it going to be?

Mr. COLBERT: Well, it's--hopefully, it's going to be a program that, with its will toward justice, will slowly change the great ship of destiny.

SIEGEL: And if we were to think of another talk show that is in existence that this one might take on head to head, what would be a model that you'd be challenging?

Mr. COLBERT: I'm really gunning for you, Siegel. But if I had to have a second choice--you know, as "The Daily Show" is to sort of like a headline-driven news, this'll be to "O'Reilly" or "Hannity" or "Scarborough Country." This is going to be the Colbert nation.

SIEGEL: Colbert nation?

Mr. COLBERT: Yes.

SIEGEL: What was the situation in which this show--the idea for this actually came up the first time?

Mr. COLBERT: Well, I mean, a lot of things contributed to the idea of the show. I think you're probably asking about, you know, the influence that Bill O'Reilly's purported sex scandal had on the development of the show. And what that said was that there was more to be done with the character-driven news than had been done already.

SIEGEL: Mm-hmm.

Mr. COLBERT: I mean, Bill O'Reilly's purported, alleged, unproven settled sex scandal hinted at a personal life that you never got to hear about, that you never got to see. And we hope to show some of that. So it's not just going to be satire; it's also going to be a little bit about the life of Colbert beyond the show.

SIEGEL: So Stephen Colbert--we will see both Stephen Colbert the talk show host...

Mr. COLBERT: Right.

SIEGEL: ...and also a bit of the inner, hidden Stephen Colbert.

Mr. COLBERT: Yes, both of them in quotation marks, though.

SIEGEL: I gather you'll have a feature on the program called Worthy Opponent, where you'll sort of argue out an issue with...

Mr. COLBERT: Exactly. I'll argue a political point with the only worthy opponent I can think of, myself.

SIEGEL: You'll be both the point and the counterpoint in this exchange?

Mr. COLBERT: Mm-hmm. And I'll be quite impressed with my opponent's argument, I guarantee you.

SIEGEL: And are you going to do the show alone, or will you have a sidekick or a, you know...

Mr. COLBERT: Are you looking for a job?

SIEGEL: No, no, I'm accounted for. But just you?

Mr. COLBERT: I'm open to any and all applicants.

SIEGEL: And will the guests on the pro--I assume there will be guests on the program whom you interview.

Mr. COLBERT: Absolutely.

SIEGEL: Will they be--How shall we say?--real people, or will they be no more real than you, let's say, being the host of the program?

Mr. COLBERT: I'm not exactly sure what to make of that question. I think you're impugning my character in some way. But, yes, we'd have real people on the show. You know, I think it's pretty obvious "The Daily Show" is just a tool of the liberal elite and, you know, we're going to actually get into some truth and some issues that I think they're afraid to deal with.

SIEGEL: So you're going to be the tougher end of the...

Mr. COLBERT: I just think Jon's been co-opted by the media. And we're going to bring it in a way that I think maybe he doesn't have the courage to anymore. He's too much of a darling these days to really--to stick it to the rest of the industry.

SIEGEL: He's the most trusted man in broadcasting, they say.

Mr. COLBERT: Well, so was Cronkite.

SIEGEL: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: I think I've made my point.

SIEGEL: Thank you very much for talking with us.

Mr. COLBERT: Thank you for talking to me.

SIEGEL: Stephen Colbert of "The Daily Show" and soon to be host of "The Colbert Report" (pronounced re-PORE) on Comedy Central.

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