TBS is making a bid for fans of Comedy Central’s late-night lineup.
The Time Warner-owned network, which has run Conan O’Brien’s latenight program opposite Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report,” Thursday unveiled an agreement with longtime “Daily Show” correspondent Samantha Bee that would have her host and executive-produce a series in which she will “apply her smart and satirical point of view to current and relevant issues,” the Time Warner-owned network said in a statement. The new show, the network said, is in the early stages of development.
The move comes as the latenight lineup of Comedy Central is in transition. Stephen Colbert wrapped his series in late 2014 as he shifts to succeed David Letterman at CBS’ “The Late Show.” And “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart has announced he intends to step down from that series between July and the end of 2015. Bee’s new duties on a rival network add to the likelihood that the Viacom-owned network will have to seek Stewart’s successor from outside its current talent lineup.
“After watching Sam’s work for years, we knew that her distinctive humor and talent belong at the front of her own show,” said Brett Weitz, executive vice president of original programming for TBS, in a statement. Bee and husband Jason Jones already are working on a 10-episode comedy series for TBS inspired by their own experiences with family getaways. The untitled show, which Jones and Bee will executive produce, will star Jones, a one-time “Daily Show” contributor who recently left that program.
Bee is expected to continue to appear on “The Daily Show” through the start of production on the TBS vacation series, and then contribute occasional pieces to “Daily Show” as her new program goes through development. Should the new series launch on air, she would presumably leave the Comedy Central program entirely.
Comedy Central executives are believed to be focusing on finding a host in his or her 30s to take over “Daily Show” as the longrunning satirical series’ third host. Under Kent Alterman, president of original programming, Comedy Central has in recent years sought out people who have a unique voice or world view, including Amy Schumer or Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of “Broad City.” For Stewart’s eventual successor, having a distinct take on culture, news and politics may be more important than relative fame.
A number of potential heirs to Stewart’s throne have recently taken themselves out of the game. “Daily Show” contributor Jessica Williams recently took to Twitter to declare herself “unqualified” for the job. Joel McHale is currently under contract at E!, and John Oliver, a former “Daily Show” contributor, has extended his stay with HBO through 2017.
At TBS, “Conan” has not generated as much audience as Comedy Central’s Stewart-and-Colbert combination, but the latenight show serves as a means to keep the network in the consideration set of creative talent and producers and has developed strong ties with advertisers like AT&T. TBS parent Turner Broadcasting extended O’Brien’s deal with the network to 2018 nearly two years ago. TBS recently tested a latenight companion program, “The Pete Holmes Show,” that aired at midnight after O’Brien’s program finished its broadcast.