The hype for Daft Punk‘s appearance on The Colbert Report tonight was palpable. Colbchella ’013, sponsored by Hyundai and all, featured the French robots as the top billing. With Saturday Night Live at the heart of their marketing campaign, somehow a triumphant comeback performance on Stephen Colbert’s late night satire seemed plausible. Instead, the bigwigs stepped in to squash it. In a surprising twist, Colbert expressed comical defiance in the wake of Daft Punk missing their scheduled set on his show.
Admitting to only finding out about the faux pas at 2 PM, Stephen broke down exactly what happened for an eager audience. Viacom, owners of Comedy Central and MTV, stepped in with a conflict of interest when Van Toffler, President of MTV Networks, claimed to have rights to Daft Punk’s monumental first post-RAM performance. Stephen Colbert has no problem poking the bear. Colbert tried to reach a compromise with Van Toffler, seeing if both could arrange Daft at each’s event. Reading an email, Toffler had replied – “checked with my peeps and they were feeling funky on this one. ” From there, the two ended up leaving the choice to Daft Punk themselves, whose decision was obvious. Colbert claims “as a company man” he wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, but goes on to announce Daft Punk would be making a “surprise appearance” at the MTV VMAs. Oh yea, and Colbert still kept the check from Hyundai.
Update: In tonight’s episode of The Colbert Report (8/7), Stephen Colbert spoke seriously (sort of) in readdressing the Daft Punk-less Colbchella. Blog conspiracy theorists allege the whole thing was a publicity stunt to promote the VMAs. Colbert responds to this claim sarcastically by “admitting” he purposefully spent time and money promoting the VMAs instead of his own show, then proceeded to plug the VMAs by giving the wrong date and network (Colbert says to tune in September 25 to VH1).
Pitchfork reports Robin Thicke’s performance was pre-taped, likely as a backup plan, and Daft Punk was planning to fly to NYC until this mix-up. Audience member accounts from the Colbchella episode live taping also assert Stephen and company were scrambling to salvage the show. In any event, a ruse unbeknownst to Stephen and planned by Comedy Central and MTV’s puppet-master, Viacom, can’t be ruled out.