Craig Kilborn was a television staple in the 1990s and early 2000s. For 10 years, Kilborn hosted a show on ESPN, Comedy Central or CBS. But then suddenly – in August 2004 – Kilborn left the television industry. What happened to Craig Kilborn? And where can fans find him today?
Craig Kilborn broke onto the national media scene as a SportsCenter host
Anyone who watched ESPN regularly in the mid-1990s was getting a healthy daily dose of Kilborn and its catchphrases. From 1993 to 1996, Kilborn hosted the late-night version of SportsCenter — which he dubbed “Feel Good Edition” — at the height of the show’s popularity.
His on-air presence and delivery, quick wit and comedic sensibility caught the attention of Comedy Central. And in 1996, they offered him the job of hosting a half-hour news spoof The daily News. He accepted the offer and became the show’s original host.
Kilborn eventually ended up putting The daily News on the card with segments like “5 Questions”, “A Moment for Us”, “Dance, Dance, Dance” and “Your Moment of Zen”. In 1998, Kilborn handed the show to Jon Stewart when CBS handpicked him to take over The Late Late Show by Tom Snyder.
At the same time as he was hosting his late-night talk show, Kilborn began exploring acting. He showed up Old school with Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn and bench press with Jon Heder and David Spade.
What happened to the former TV presenter?
Kilborn hosted The Late Late Show for five years, with an introduction of The late show with David Letterman. He changed the show’s format for younger audiences, created several characters, and even co-narrated his own introduction Play that funky music play in the background.
But when it came time to renew his CBS contract in 2004, Kilborn decided to quit his “dream job” and hand over the hosting duties to Craig Ferguson. In 2010, Kilborn told the Los Angeles Times that he did not leave The Late Late Show to do something else. Instead, he “just went to go.”
“I thought late at night would be crowded… the format is repetitive,” Kilborn explained. “I achieved my goals and it wasn’t all it was supposed to be.”
Nearly a decade later, in 2019, Kilborn told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the main reason he left the show was because he’d creatively lost interest in late-night comedy.
“The other reason was that the business side of this particular show was overly flawed, so I escaped the silliness. … I’ve just developed a specific, aristocratic, comedic sensibility that doesn’t resonate with late night,” Kilborn said.
Craig Kilborn’s fans can now find him on Instagram
Fifteen years after leaving his popular late-night talk show, Kilborn resurfaced on social media when he created an Instagram account at the request of his nieces. His videos became so popular with his former colleagues that everyone turned to him.
“They’re just as funny as he makes it. Subtle yet over the top at the same time,” said Steve Levy – Kilborn’s former SportsCenter co-host. “He’s the only reason I joined Instagram.”
Kilborn insists he has no desire to return to television as he’s perfectly content living the retired life in Southern California with his longtime girlfriend. He noted that his mother always said that there are two types of people – those who enjoy being on stage and those who enjoy being in the audience.
The former late-night presenter concluded by saying he knows he’s comfortable on stage and has been told he’s “good at it”. But he also feels very comfortable in the audience.
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