cr_11032_05.jpgThis week marks several milestones in late night. Thursday, Stephen Colbert says goodbye to The Nation with his final Report. After nine hilarious seasons and 1500 episodes he must be ready to shed his mock-O’Reilly skin. I can’t wait to meet the real Colbert next summer as he steps up to the CBS Late Show stage.

It seems as though TV’s Craig Ferguson checked out of the Late Late Show months ago but Friday is actually his last hurrah. He’s already moved on to his daytime gig, hosting Celebrity Name Game (weekdays at 3 p.m. on City). It’s based on a board game co-created by Laura Robinson, a Toronto actress I remember interviewing eons ago for a TV Guide “celebrity chef” food story. (This was back when she was on Night Heat.) She was also in on the invention of Balderdash. The girl plays games for a living, I thought getting paid to watch TV was a good gig.

The Late Late Show With Craig FergusonAnyway, Craigy left CBS with a trunk full of cash. They had to pay the canny Scott off thanks to the “Prince of Wales” clause in his contract stipulating a buy out if CBS failed to offer him David Letterman’s job. Word is it was $10 Large, so that will buy plenty of hay for Secretariat.

Ferguson put in ten years and over 2000 shows, winning a Peabody along the way. It was a hell of a good time live as I discovered on a couple of trips to CBS Television City. His final guest Friday is Jay Leno. Whaa? Is there some sort of late night retirees club? I’ll miss Ferguson’s show, it didn’t follow the rules and was smart, silly and even wonderfully wrong at times. Where to go now for a puppet fix?

Read more on Colbert, Ferguson and changes in late night here at this feature I wrote this week for The Canadian Press.

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