Stephen Colbert's Premiere 'Late Show' Episode Almost Didn't Air - Rolling Stone
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Stephen Colbert’s Premiere ‘Late Show’ Episode Almost Didn’t Air

“At 11:20 … no one in the building could give me a guarantee for certain that the show was going to go on the air last night,” host said of technical problems

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert premiered Tuesday night with an impressive, ratings-topping 6.6 million viewers, but as Colbert informed his audience Wednesday, his inaugural episode came dangerously close to not airing at all because of a technical glitch. “I almost needed a heart transplant last night because a funny thing happened, and I’m telling you, this is absolutely a true story … The show almost didn’t get on the air last night,” the host said in his opening.

“It took us a while to cut the show down to time, and then when we tried to send it to the network, so they could show it to you on air, the computers kept crashing. At 11:20 — and again this actually happened — no one in the building could give me a guarantee for certain that the show was going to go on the air last night,” Colbert said. “So you could imagine how exciting that was for all of us.”

The first episode, which featured George Clooney and Jeb Bush, ran so long – Colbert likened it to “a Double Stuf Oreo stuffed with other Oreos” – that additional editing was needed to fit the program within its hour-long slot. Some of the best moments – like Bush’s thoughts on gun control and Clooney commenting on the Batman and Robin nipple controversy – were forced to online-only status. However, what actually made the episode wouldn’t leave the editing room computers with only 15 minutes to go before broadcast time.

“As I felt the oxygen begin to drain from my brain and all my organs shutting down, I thought ‘If we actually make it to air, this will be a pretty good story.’ And if we don’t, it will still be a very interesting story at the theater camp I’ll be running in Idaho,” Colbert joked. “But in the clutch, and I got to thank them, our talented tech team managed to get the show out of the hard drive and on the air. I’m still not sure what the problem was but if you’re seeing this at home right now, it means we fixed it.”

The new Late Show continued on Wednesday incident-free with Scarlett Johansson, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Kendrick Lamar.


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