Where Are They Now? Craig Kilborn

by Corey Chapman @chapmanrunner on November 4, 2011

in Television, Where are they now?

Right now, Craig Kilborn should be backstage at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, waiting for long time host of Late Night, Mr. David Letterman, to introduce him as his next guest.

They should banter back and forth, discussing topics they covered in a pre-interview, from the economy to Occupy Wall Street to the NBA Lockout. At some point, Kilborn would do what he does best and go off topic, improvise with Dave.

“So when are you going to retire so I can take over the show?”

Dave would lean back in his chair, look to the floor and half smile. He would force out a short laugh, and say to Craig, “When CBS finds someone worthy.”

If Craig Kilborn hadn’t quit The Late Late Show back in August 2004, that Letterman appearance would be real. Now, its but a dream. Kilborn won’t be on Letterman asking him for his job anytime soon. Come to think of it, Kilborn would probably have a tough time getting a third segment spot on the late night variety show.

So what happened?

Kilborn rose to fame when he anchored the late night edition of ESPN’s Sportscenter from 1993-96, a hit with the college kids because of his cool “I don’t care” attitude. He parlayed that into hosting a new show developed by Comedy Central: The Daily Show. He helped launch the show, but grew tired of it after three seasons. His next stop was network television, signing a deal to replace Tom Synder at 12:30 following Letterman. This made him the heir apparent to Letterman. He had everything going for him! But he decided to not extend his CBS contract and rode off into the sunset on top. Speculation was he wanted to pursue a television and film career. He did have small roles in movies like Old School and The Benchwarmers, nothing to write home about.

In an interview in June 2010, he stated that he left late night TV because it was too crowded. That same month, he debuted The Kilborn Files an half hour show that was a mix of The Daily Show and The Late Late Show. It ran for six weeks on selected Fox affiliates but was not picked up for national distribution.

Kilborn announced in May 2011 that he signed a deal to star in a sitcom for ABC. The network confirmed a script order in October which could mean Kilborn back on TV as early as spring as a mid season replacement. According to TV Guide, the single camera comedy centers around, who else, Kilborn playing a mystery writer who has “mastered the art of living.” His life is turned upside down when he meets his dream date.

There is a chance we will see Craig Kilborn hamming it up with David Letterman on The Late Show sometime soon. They might talk about the politics of the day, or the GOP debates, or the latest celebrity gossip. One thing is for sure, Kilborn won’t go off topic and ask him for his job. That ship has sailed.

James January 4, 2013 at 11:35 am

Hah- I like the hypothetical at the beginning, and also wish that were a true scenario. What DID happen to him? He was huge amongst the most coveted TV demographic. Great post.

Mr. Serious January 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Thanks James!

TBS had Old School running over the holiday break, and I was able to catch it just as Kilby makes his first appearance. I got the same “You left your talk show for this?!” feeling as soon as he appeared on screen. I still cant figure out why he walked away….

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