Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images.
UPDATE: He's back!
After unexpectedly canceling two shows last week, Stephen Colbert was back on the air Monday night. The late-night star opened his show by addressing a handful of the more popular rumors that had been circulating about why the Colbert Report temporarily halted production, including speculation that the FCC had pulled his show and that he had gone in for some plastic surgery.
The Comedy Central star didn't exactly specify the reason for his absence, but he did close the segment with a hint: "Oh, one more thing. Evidently having 11 children makes you tough as nails," he said, adding "Confidential to a lovely lady." That was an apparent nod to his ailing 91-year-old mother, who was reportedly the reason Colbert didn't tape at the end of last week.
Prior to the show, Colbert took to Twitter to thank his fans for their support: "My family and I would like to thank everyone who has offered their thoughts and prayers," he wrote. "We are grateful and touched by your concern."
Thursday, Feb 16 at 2:35 p.m.: The Wall Street Journal reports that the reason production of the Colbert Report was unexpectedly suspended this week was an emergency in Stephen Colbert's family.
The paper, citing unnamed sources familiar with the show, did not provide details on the exact emergency, although they said the Comedy Central show was expected to resume production soon, possibly as early as next week.
Thursday, Feb. 16: The Web is abuzz this morning with the news that the Colbert Report has temporarily suspended production for unknown reasons.
Fans with tickets to Wednesday's taping received a vague email letting them know that the show would not go on as planned. "Due to unforseen circumstances, we have cancelled our taping for the date of your ticket reservation, February 15, 2012," the message read.
The show's website, ColbertNation.com, was later updated with a schedule change showing that Thursday night's episode would also be a re-run.
Neither Colbert nor Comedy Central have issued a statement explaining the last-second change of plans. The comedy blog The Third Beat posits a couple of theories:
A last-minute cancellation is highly unusual for Comedy Central’s fake news shows. The Daily Show has suspended production last-minute due to personal reasons twice during Jon Stewart’s reign: once when his second child was born, and once when a staff member passed away suddenly. If this week’s reasons are of a similar nature, it would be a first for the Colbert Report.
As others have already noted, it's unlikely Colbert would cancel the show simply because he was sick. He's already proved to be something of a comedic iron man, taping shows with a broken wrist and other injuries.