‘Late Show with Stephen Colbert’: Why is the show bringing back crowds?
Things are finally getting back to normal in the world of late-night television. This morning, CBS announced The Late Show with Stephen Colbert will be returning to the Ed Sullivan Theater after more than a year of filming episodes remotely. Colbert hasn’t had a live audience since March 16th, 2020.
The Late Show was the first late-night broadcast to return to the air after pandemic shutdowns sent everyone home. Stephen Colbert opened his first socially distanced show with a monologue delivered from his bathtub. Since then, The Late Show has remotely produced two hundred five episodes, including sixteen live episodes.
Initially, episodes were shot in Colbert’s home in South Carolina. Over time, production moved into the empty offices at the Ed Sullivan Theater. Colbert continued bringing on celebrity and musical guests via video calls.
Just last week, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert brought on its first live guest since the shutdown. John Krasinksi joined Colbert in the Ed Sullivan offices to talk about his film A Quiet Place Part II. Colbert will stand in front of an audience again on June 14th.
Getting back to normal
While The Late Show with Stephen Colbert was the first show to return to the air after the first wave of pandemic shutdowns, it’s one of the last to bring back live audiences. Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel have already been hosting shows with limited audience capacity since March. Saturday Night Live recently brought in a live audience for its season finale
The Late Show’s decision comes as New York City is finding its way back to normalcy. The city had one of the worst COVID infection rates in the world, but now that rate has dropped to its lowest point in a year. Officials report that forty-five percent of the city has been fully vaccinated.
Across the city, many venues are opening their doors to vaccinated audiences. This past weekend, 15,000 people poured into Madison Square Garden to watch the New York Knicks play against the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA playoffs. Next month, Radio City Music Hall will begin operating at full capacity. Broadway will make its grand return this September.
In CBS’s official announcement of The Late Show’s return, Colbert wrote: “Over the last 437 days, my staff and crew (and family!) have amazed me with their professionalism and creativity as we made shows for an audience we couldn’t see or hear. I look forward to once again doing shows for an audience I can smell and touch.”
Opening the Ed Sullivan
The Ed Sullivan Theater, where The Late Show with Stephen Colbert makes its home, has the largest audience capacity of any late-night television venue. The theater can seat a whopping four hundred fifty people. That capacity factored into CBS delaying The Late Show’s return until June.
The network says its plan for reopening has been reviewed by state health officials. They are in compliance with all state & federal guidelines. In addition, CBS will be staffing a Covid compliance officer to monitor the situation on an ongoing basis.
When the Ed Sullivan Theater opens its doors, audience members will need to show proof of full vaccination before entering. Within the theater, masks will be optional for audience members. Staff and crew will undergo daily screening for Covid symptoms, and they will be tested on a regular basis.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert has increased in popularity since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s currently the highest-rated late-night talk show, and fans have been anticipating a return to live shows for a long time. Neither the studio nor Colbert have said anything about their plans for the first show back at Ed Sullivan, but it’s sure to be an extravagant affair.