Stephen Colbert comes across as so comfortable in the skin of his "Colbert Report" arch-conservative pundit persona that it's easy to forget he's playing a character that has been developed by him and the writer-producers on his Comedy Central skein.
Chief among those "Colbert Report" truthiness-deciders is Allison Silverman, who was upped last month to exec producer of the show along with Colbert and Jon Stewart. Silverman, whose resume includes stints as a writer-producer on "The Daily Show" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," has worked closely with Colbert during the past two years to fine-tune the character that walks a fine line between arrogant jerk and arrogant-but-lovable-jerk. (And arrogant-but-lovable presidential candidate as of Oct. 17, so long as those pesky Federal Election Commission rules don't drum him out of the race.)
"In the beginning we were conscious that he could turn out to be a real jerk of a character, and we still think about it a lot. We've always wanted him to be arrogant and willfully ignorant, but not someone you'd just hate," says Silverman, who joined "Colbert" shortly after it was picked up to series in 2005. "A lot of times it's all about the tone. Sometimes he'll do something that comes off as too repugnant. He'll say the exact same things but change the tone just a little bit and it makes all the difference."