The not-quite-household name will settle into the Late Late Show seat vacated by Tom Snyder in August 1999, it's been learned.
Comedy Central confirmed on Friday Kilborn's impending exit for its nightly news satire, The Daily Show.
The ex-ESPN SportsCenter anchor, 34, is to remain anchored on the cable network through the run of his contract, which expires in August 1999.
Kilborn's new gig will pit him in the post-David Letterman, 12:35 a.m. time slot against NBC's surging Conan O'Brien.
Tom Snyder cleared the way for Kilborn this week by announcing that he was tired of the nightly talk grind and wanted out. His CBS contract expires in September 1999.
Snyder, 61, made it sound like he wanted to step down early. It's not clear now when he'll leave.
Snyder was personally recruited for the Late Late Show by admirer Letterman. The program, produced by Letterman's production company, launched in September 1995.
Snyder's easy-going, one-on-one celeb chat sessions have proved no ratings match for O'Brien's more conventional, collegiate-friendly comedy-talk hour.
Comedian Jon Stewart had long been rumored to be CBS' top pick for a post-Letterman show when and if Snyder departed. (He's also reportedly being groomed to continue a reconfigured Larry Sanders Show on HBO in Garry Shandling's absence.)
Kilborn's name comes somewhat out of left field. The Daily Show has been a steady performer for Comedy Central since its 1996 debut. But the most mainstream press the show has received was some Kilborn bad press.
Last December, he mouthed off in Esquire magazine about his head writer, a woman: "If I wanted her to blow me, she would."
That earned him a weeklong suspension. (The writer quit.)
Still, Comedy Central wanted Kilborn back and was in contract talks with him when the CBS deal happened.
No word on who'll succeed Kilborn on the Daily Show.