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Moonves loved what he saw that evening, and later online, and immediately was conspiring to bring Corden to his network.
He began by lobbying Bob Boyett, one of the play's producers whom he knew from his days at Lorimar during the late 1980s.
On April 10, CBS sent out a press release announcing the news.
"I think Colbert is going to be the conscience of America," says Moonves, confident that his new host, who plans to shed his faux-conservative persona, will fill the Letterman void.
In May, he and his entertainment chairman, Nina Tassler, had Corden come by Black Rock to discuss the possibility of late night. viewers was of little concern to Moonves, who saw the potential for a distinctive sensibility that could make the franchise a part of the conversation in the way that micro-niche predecessor Craig Ferguson did not. 8, the news broke: Corden will be the new host of .
They were dazzled by his pitch, which highlighted his unique brand of comedy — "a cross between Fred Astaire and Jack Black," says Tassler — and eschewed the customary late-night riffing on current events. Read more ' Madam Secretary': 5 Things to Know About CBS' Political Drama When I ask Moonves, 64, why someone of his stature — the CEO of a billion company who took home a staggering million in pay in 2013 — is out there scouting new late-night talent along with other hands-on creative tasks such as reading scripts and watching casting tapes, he says without hesitation, "Because I still love it." What he doesn't need to say but is obvious from his track record — CBS is the most-watched network for 11 of the past 12 seasons and recently earned 11 Primetime Emmys, second only to HBO — is that he's better at it than almost anyone else.
Together, he and his longtime host decided to wait until after the noise from Jay Leno's departure had died down.
Onstage was an English comedian whom the CBS chief executive had never heard of before: James Corden, a now-36-year-old with a résumé that includes a screwball mix of writing, acting, singing, dancing and emceeing.
On the ground in Baltimore, he and Mc Manus scrapped a song by Rihanna (herself once battered) and celebratory intro and moved forward with plans for sportscaster James Brown to deliver a powerful pregame commentary and recap of praising the network's handling of the events.
The following morning, Nielsen reported that a whopping 21 million viewers had tuned in.
"He's the man with a platinum gut," says Dream Works Animation CEO and longtime friend Jeffrey Katzenberg, who tried to poach Moonves more than once in his career.
"He has an instinct about the audience — who they are, what they want and how to entertain them — and he has done it with a level of success and reliability that is almost unprecedented." What becomes clear as I spend time with the gregarious executive over multiple days in August is that he is a vestige of an earlier era when showmen, rather than MBAs, ran the entertainment industry.
Although the CBS chief acknowledges "a couple of sponsors" asked to have ads shifted (one to a different part of the game; the other to another game), he downplays the impact.