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The Letterman scandal: How will other talk-show hosts react?

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In the wake of last night’s Letterman revelations, the other late-night hosts are put in a tricky position. It’s their job to joke about what’s in the news, and what’s newsier, at least when it comes to show-biz stories, than the affairs of their colleague?

Will Jay Leno touch this subject tonight? Given the bad blood between the two of them, this could go one of three ways, I think: Leno will ignore it; or he’ll make some semi-serious brief comment about it; or he’ll allude to it in a sideways-joking manner that will let him off the hook if the audience doesn’t like the tone.

How about Craig Ferguson? He’s in a really tough position. After all, Letterman is, technically, his boss — The Late Late Show is a Worldwide Pants production. Ferguson taped the show that airs tonight before news of the scandal broke, so don’t expect him to address the subject. But next week? The Scottish host is justly famous for his frank, unscripted opening monologues which, unlike all his other colleagues, allows room for him to address issues in a serious as well as a humorous manner. It will seem odd if Ferguson says nothing; yet who can blame him if he just wants to stay out of an icky situation?

As for the rest, I could imagine Jimmy Kimmel finding this right in his raunchy wheelhouse, which I don’t intend as an insult: Kimmel is a shrewd humorist these days.

Conan? I could be wrong, but I don’t see O’Brien touching this with ten-foot tongs.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? I’d wager on Stewart definitely talking about this on Monday, but wonder how the Colbert persona can find an angle that suits him. Then again, Colbert is brilliant and I’m not, so I’ll be watching to see.

What do you think? Will the competition and colleagues talk about Letterman, and what tone will they take?

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