BERLIN — Germany’s equivalent to Jay Leno is heading back to TV after a year’s absence.
Harald Schmidt, whose latenight yakker attracted millions of viewers during its eight-year run on commercial web Sat 1, ankled in December after former managing director Martin Hoffmann was ousted in an exec reshuffle.
Schmidt is returning to pubcaster ARD, where he began his career at a regional affiliate.
Schmidt, who started out as a cabaret artist and still does stage work, moved to Sat 1 in 1995 to launch the “Harald Schmidt Show,” a blatant knockoff of the Leno and David Letterman shows, complete with city skyline background and studio band.
Yet Schmidt, with his trademark wit and deadpan humor, managed to make the show his own, securing a fan base that has been anxiously awaiting his return.
Sat 1 tried to replace Schmidt with local comedian Anke Engelke, but pulled “Anke Late Night” last month after five months due to poor ratings.
Schmidt will produce the new ARD show with Constantin Entertainment. Manual Andrack, his Ed McMahon-like straight man and the show’s main gag writer, also will return.