The 11:30pm weeknight timeslot won’t be such a bad place to be even after The Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert ends his popular late-night Comedy Central satirical news program sometime next year (prior to its 10th anniversary) and takes over hosting CBS’ Late Show from the retiring David Letterman.
Launching early next year in Colbert’s old timeslot will be The Minority Report, hosted by Larry Wilmore. Wilmore, best known to loyal viewers of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as the “Senior Black Correspondent” since 2006, has also written in the past for comedy series like In Living Color and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and co-created the Eddie Murphy-starring, clay-animated sitcom The PJs and The Bernie Mac Show (which he also produced) for the Fox Network. Over the course of his career in television, Wilmore has been nominated for three Emmys, winning one for Bernie Mac, and received the prestigious Peabody Award in 2001 for the same series. In 2009, Wilmore published his first book, I’d Rather We Got Casinos and Other Black Thoughts, and as an actor he has had small roles in I Love You, Man and Dinner for Schmucks.
According to a press release issued by Comedy Central, The Minority Report was created by Jon Stewart, who will also produce the show through his Busboy Productions. Stewart will also serve as an executive producer alongside Wilmore. Network president Michele Ganeless said of their latest venture, “We are so excited to have a fresh idea for late night,” and hopes that Wilmore’s new series will “provide an opportunity for the underrepresented voices out there.”
Stewart said of the news in an official statement, “While Larry Wilmore is a brilliant comic and showrunner, this is all just a complicated ruse to get him to move to New York and turn him into a Knicks fan.” To which Wilmore replied:
“I’m beyond excited to have this chance to continue my relationships with Comedy Central and the brilliant Jon Stewart. I love the city of New York and promise to only wear my Laker t-shirts when I’m layering.”
The Minority Report looks to skewer news programs and the day’s events with the same jaundiced comedic sensibility of its classic forebears and will seemingly adhere to a similar format, though we won’t know for sure until more details are released. Nevertheless, I am thrilled to see Wilmore finally getting his own Comedy Central show. His appearances on The Daily Show are always hilarious and his slightly awkward (which is intentional) chemistry with Stewart is priceless just for the occasional uncomfortable silences. Plus, Wilmore’s calm, pleasant demeanor makes his brutally funny monologues all the more stinging and watchable.
It shows confidence and appreciation on the network’s part by keeping the new series in the Daily Show family (Colbert himself was once a correspondent before graduating to The Colbert Report) and the decision to forgo wasting the timeslot on something more disposable in tone and content is not only smart, but progressive given that there are still too few talk show hosts of color on late-night television.
The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore will premiere on Comedy Central in January 2015.