When “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” returns to the Ed Sullivan Theater on June 14, it will be filmed in front of a live, full and fully vaccinated audience, CBS announced today, becoming the first network late-night show to make that move. Colbert was the first late-night host to return to the screen after the pandemic hit, broadcasting a total of 205 episodes remotely from his home in South Carolina and more recently from a small room at the Midtown theater.
“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,” Colbert said in a statement.
Pre-pandemic, “The Late Show” was the highest-rated late-night show on television. The last time Colbert filmed in the Ed Sullivan Theater it was with only the show’s staff and crew in the audience. Eventually, all late-night shows moved to remote models, with Colbert being the first to air from his home (from his bathtub, in fact) on March 16, 2020. This remote format was dubbed “A Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Since it is a former Broadway theater, the Ed Sullivan Theater can hold 400 people, the largest audience of any late-night show. The decision to allow vaccinated guests at full capacity is in keeping with New York state’s most recent protocols. Those in attendance must show proof that they’re fully vaccinated, but face masks are optional. The show’s staff and crew will continue to be tested regularly, and there will be a COVID-19 compliance officer on staff.
“Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” have already returned, but with only a limited audience (SNL did bring back a full audience for its finale). Broadway theaters will begin reopening in September at full capacity, but they have not yet specified their vaccinated mandates.
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