Stephen Colbert said he came awfully close to not making his much-ballyhooed debut on “The Late Show” this week.

Colbert, opening his second program on Wednesday night, said that a combination of an overstuffed show that needed to be edited and a technical glitch temporarily prevented producers from sending the finished product to the network. “At 11:20 — and this actually happened — no one in the building could give me a guarantee that the show was going to be on the air,” he said. The show airs at 11:35 p.m. EDT.

“You could imagine how exciting that was for all of us, after CBS had plastered my face on every flat surface on the planet,” he said.

The problems were corrected just in time. “As I felt the oxygen begin to drain from my brain and all of my organs shutting down, I thought if we actually made it to air, this will be a pretty good story,” he said. “And if we don’t, it will still be a good story at the theater camp I will be running in Idaho.”

Colbert’s debut averaged 6.6 million viewers, more than double what Jimmy Fallon had on NBC’s “Tonight” show, the Nielsen company said.

Grateful Dead members carry on

After Deadhead mania burst to life again in July around their concerts at Chicago’s Soldier Field, some (but not all) of the surviving members of the Grateful Dead are carrying on as the newly branded Dead & Company for a tour with guest jammer John Mayer coming Nov. 21 to Target Center. Singer/guitarist Bob Weir and percussionists Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann will be joined by “Body is a Wonderland” hitmaker Mayer in lieu of Phish’s Trey Anastasio, who played at those Chicago gigs. Original Dead bassist Phil Lesh opted to focus on his solo career instead of joining the tour. Their first show will be Oct. 29 in Albany, N.Y., followed by a two-night stand at Madison Square Garden. Tickets to the Minneapolis date go on sale Sept. 18 through for $50, $75 and $99.

Chris Riemenschneider


STart date: Former NBC News anchor Brian Williams will return to the air on Sept. 22 as part of MSNBC’s coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. Williams lost his job as anchor of NBC’s “Nightly News” and was suspended for six months after a pattern emerged that he had lied about his role covering certain news stories. Lester Holt has taken over at “Nightly News.”


New contract: Pop star Britney Spears is staying in Las Vegas for at least another two years. Caesars Entertainment Corp. announced Thursday that Spears has extended her residency at the Planet Hollywood casino-hotel on the Las Vegas Strip through December 2017.

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