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Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” to Experiment With Episodes Mixing Old and New Material

When CBS’ “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” hits the screen this Thursday and Friday, viewers may have a sense of deja vu – but only a little bit.

The late-night program, which has seen its audience grow in recent months as its host and producers pay ever-closer attention to the headlines and President Trump-dominated news cycle, will test a new format. Rather than trot out repeats, as they were scheduled to do, “Late Show” staffers will pair new opening sketches, monologues and some new guest interviews with encore presentations of past sit-downs between Colbert and visiting celebrities. Both episodes will start at 11:50 PM eastern due to CBS’s telecast of highlight shows from the Masters golf tournament on those nights.

Colbert and his team have tested this concept in the recent past.The late night comic pre-taped episodes for March 20, 21, and 22 when the program was scheduled to be in repeats. And in October of last year, Colbert taped a segment from home offering his reaction to a presidential debate. The six-minute piece added a fresh element to an old program featuring Amy Schumer and Michaela Watkins. The show had been dark that week.

But the staff’s willingness to embrace the concept anew illustrates the demands on the program to remain hyper-relevant to viewers who are coming to the wee-hours host for topical commentary. A repeat in the current news cycle might give a viewer reason to test out NBC’s “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” or ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

CBS said Thursday night’s program will include interviews with Jessica Lange, Bassem Youssef, Judy Gold from March 17, while Friday’s episode will include new interviews with Mandy Patinkin and Zosia Mamet, along with an encore interview with Jerrod Carmichael, also from March 17.

Viewers should not expect fresh material during every repeat, CBS said, but the show’s staff will continue to seek chances to keep things topical.

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