(BlackMediaScoop) Much has changed in the 19 years since Arsenio Hall ended his popular late-night talk show — from the number of shows to the guests they feature — but not his desire to be part of the crowd.
Hall, 57, gets another chance Monday, when The Arsenio Hall Show premieres in syndication (check local listings). “As much as I love acting and all those different things, I’ve never been as happy in my life as I was when I was just grinding, doing the show day in and day out,” he says.
The late-night field he returns to is more crowded and a “harder atmosphere than last time.” Back then, other late-night hosts included Johnny Carson (succeeded by Jay Leno) and David Letterman. Now, there’s Leno (who’s leaving in February), Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Chelsea Handler, W. Kamau Bell, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, among others.
Hall’s earlier show, which ran from 1989 to 1994 and had started losing affiliates to other talk shows, ended in part because he wanted to get more balance in his life, especially in his family and personal relationships. He says he’s returning with that balance, including the support of his 13-year-old son, Arsenio Jr.
“I have no regrets. I’ve had an incredible time away. I was able to raise my son in a way that my parents were’t able to be in my life,” because they were so busy working, he says. “When I sat and talked to my son, I was like, ‘I love being a father. There’s nothing I love more than that. But as you need me a little less, I’m going to start addressing the fact that I miss late-night and I might want to try to go back.’ And he was all for it.”
He had earlier tried to position himself toward resuming his late-night career, but nothing worked out. Once, it was a broken tooth just before he was going to substitute for Billy Bush on Access Hollywood. Another time he had to cancel a studio meeting because his son had an allergic reaction.
This time, everything went as planned — and better. Hall’s appearance on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice in 2012 was an introduction to a new generation, but he didn’t expect to win. The Apprentice “was important. I’m always shocked at kids who come up to me in the mall. That’s amazing to me,” he says. Although there are more late-night competitors, he says, he doesn’t think he will need to steal their viewers to create his own audience.
“I absolutely believe that the pie has been split into much smaller pieces.” But “there are so many more people who aren’t watching any of these (shows),” he says. “The first time around, I didn’t take from Johnny. I attracted an audience that did not have a late-night vehicle.”
Hall initially succeeded by creating a festive atmosphere and attracting the children of Carson’s viewers. And his goal is to bring them back, along with some new ones, says Bill Carroll, director of programming at Katz Television Group, which represents TV stations. “What they’re hoping to do is re-establish the party every night,” he says. “Initially, he’s going to have to appeal to the people who watched him before, and hopefully some younger viewers will be there as well.”
Hall has an opportunity with strong time slots, mostly 11 p.m. ET/10 p.m. CT, says Cathleen Campe of the ad firm RPA. “It’s almost a vicious or a virtuous circle,” she says. “If you have a good time slot, you have potential for more viewers, but you’d better have good content or you’re not going to keep the viewers. A lot of it is going to depend on the talent they get.”
Arsenio fans can expect some familiar touches, including the return of the Dog Pound, the enthusiastic audience section famed for its woofing and fist-pumping. There will be twists, too, as he blends his earlier theme song with a new piece that he wrote.
First-week guests will include Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who spoke about contracting HIV in a serious segment on the original show, and George Lopez, who made his national debut on Arsenio. Chris Tucker will appear Monday, and other guests include Ice Cube, Lisa Kudrow, Angela Bassett, Mark Harmon and rapper Mac Miller.
“I’m obviously a little older, maybe one less RPM of energy, (but) I’m still pretty much the same guy,” Hall says. “I’m one of those guys who believes there’s no magic or mysticism to these talk shows. Whether you have a desk or use two chairs, you’re buying into personalities. People make choices.”
Will you watch?
Source: Black Media Scoop