Stephen Colbert—as in the conservative character played by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report—recently debuted on the Late Show, which is, of course, hosted by the real Stephen Colbert. And very quickly thereafter, lawyers from a certain unnamed network (presumably Comedy Central) got in touch with lawyers for CBS, the network that carries the Late Show, to argue that the character of Stephen Colbert is Comedy Central's intellectual property, Colbert revealed Wednesday night on the Late Show. "So, it is with a heavy heart that I announce that, thanks to corporate lawyers, the character of Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report, will never be seen again," Colbert said.
"What can I do?" he continued. "The lawyers have spoken. I cannot reasonably argue I own my face or name. And as much as I'd like to have that guy on again, I can't. So instead, joining me now, live via satellite from Philadelphia, please welcome Stephen Colbert's identical twin cousin, Stephen Colbert." Colbert—the Late Show host, not the identical twin cousin of that other Colbert—made it sound as if the new Stephen Colbert will continue to appear on the Late Show. He then went on to debut "The Werd," an ever-so-slightly-modified version of a popular segment from the Colbert Report, "The Word." (Video here.) Meanwhile, for those interested in going deeper, the Hollywood Reporter delves into whether Viacom, Comedy Central's parent company, can actually stop Colbert from playing Colbert.