Comedy Central remained deafeningly silent Thursday as to why one of its biggest franchises, “The Colbert Report” suddenly went dark Wednesday citing “unforeseen circumstances.”
Minus actual information, frantic fans began to speculate ghoulishly about the state of Colbert’s health, his family’s health, the mental health of his staff, his SuperPAC, his relationship with the network, and whether the show had been canceled, or he could have been booked for a last minute trip to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, The Reporters Who Covered Television, did their bit to fan the flames. By late afternoon, a report that Colbert’s 91-year-old mother was ill was leading the pack, with Huffington Post citing one source -- a “person who has a business relation with the show.”
People holding tickets for Wednesday’s taping received an emailing saying, “Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have cancelled our taping for the date of your ticket reservation, February 15, 2012.”
Those who had not checked their emails showed up at the studio and were turned away. And viewers who tuned in Wednesday night expecting to see an original episode, saw instead a rerun in which Colbert waxed comic about Herman Cain. And, the show’s official web site was updated to say that Thursday’s episode also would be a rerun. The faux news program does not tape on Fridays.
All day Thursday, the Viacom-owned network stuck with its official statement:
“Due to unforeseen circumstances, the show will air repeat episodes on Wednesday, February 15 and Thursday, February 16.”
The show is expected to return to originals soon, a source with knowledge of the situation told The TV Column.
Meanwhile, the show’s warm up guy, Pete Dominick had nothing to offer, tweeting: “Yes I work at the Colbert Report and No I dont know why the show is off for 2 nights.”
And Colbert’s Twitter feed had nothing to offer – it’s been silent since Tuesday’s: "Happy Valentine's Day! Hope you're enjoying your flowers, or chocolates, or smug self-satisfaction at not celebrating Valentine's Day."
“The longer it takes to put out news on what’s happening the more scared we all get,” one concerned fan wrote around lunchtime in the comments section of one report, adding, “Really Hope everything is ok. Thinking positive thoughts.”
On that front, the fan was getting no help from the press. The web site Third Beat, faced with no information from the network, thought to note -- under “late minute cancellation is highly unusual for Comedy Central’s fake news shows” -- that “The Daily Show” has suspended production at the last minute on two occasions during Jon Stewart’s tenure: once when one of his children was born and once when a staff member took his own life.
“If this week’s reasons are of a similar nature, it would be a first for the ’Colbert Report’,” the site added.