Designing The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

The set of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert | Jack Morton broadcast design

Tuesday night’s premiere of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS was a particularly exciting moment for the broadcast design team here at Jack Morton, as we were the designers responsible for the show’s brand new set. After months and months of hard work, we were happy to see our vision finally come together.

As the leader of the broadcast design team, I was tasked with overseeing the project from start to finish, which was a truly rewarding experience.

I first met with Stephen Colbert and his team of producers and writers back in January. Stephen wanted to feature the original architecture of the Ed Sullivan Theater, while also creating an intimate space and audience experience.

Jim Fenhagen and Stephen Colbert on the set of the Late Show | Jack Morton broadcast design

Stephen Colbert and me on the set of the Late Show

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert marquee | Jack Morton broadcast design

The Late Show marquee

Our team, including senior designer Larry Hartman, began exploring the theater and sketching numerous ideas before landing on the final design. Large-scale high-resolution LED screens and built-in lighting are a particularly integral aspect of our set design, as they enable both the backgrounds and the set elements to change between interviews and musical performances.

The set melds a contemporary industrial chic with the classic architecture of the iconic theater and the use of balconies and ceilings helps to create an intimate set within the beautifully restored theater.

The set of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert | Jack Morton broadcast design

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  1. James Gilbert

    Looks great. It’s very jarring at first. I’ve said before, it’s like seeing the house you grew up in renovated. Where’s the pencil marks on the door frame? They’ve turned the dining room into an office, etc, etc.

    I really love the use of projection on the ceiling and the sides of the theater. There have already been some outstanding uses (galaxy) and I’m sure there will be many more. Uncovering the stained glass is nice and I hope we get to see it highlighted.


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