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September 3, 2013

Arsenio Hall – Back to Late Night

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Written by: Sylvester Cosby
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Arsenio Hall is making a comeback! The once Prince of Late Night television and his Dog Pound are getting back in the late-night talk show arena. He bid adieu from the game almost 20 years ago. Many believe his show was cancelled but he actually resigned. He walked away from a show that was still profitable for Paramount although the audience ratings took a nosedive (as in most shows after five to six years).

The “Arsenio Hall” show ran from 1989-94 or six seasons. There were fewer channels to watch back then and the king of late-night television was the one and only Johnny Carson (The Tonight Show). The best moments from the Arsenio Hall show are probably the night Magic Johnson revealed he had AIDS and the iconic appearance of former President Bill Clinton playing the saxophone. He also help make music superstar Mariah Carey a household name. Syndicator CBS Television Distribution and Tribune will air his new syndicated show on September 9th on more than 200 outlets. To date no guests have yet to be booked for his first show but music icon Prince has already been booked.  Arsenio wants “A-listers”,  Justin Bieber, Will Smith and Jay Z to be guest as well.

Arsenio now 57 years old, recently sat and talked with reporters during the Television Critics Association summer press tour and was extremely excited and chatty about his return. In fact his press session ran 15 minutes overtime. Arsenio who has sent the last 5 years preparing for his return, says that he’s coming back to make people laugh and not pushing their messages. He told reporters “If you’ve got a message, go to Western Union.” When he was in the game, the Internet was an experiment and social media was non-existent. Now he’s making preparations to infuse in his new show today’s culture of music, comedy, pop, hip hop and social media.  He uses Jimmy Fallon’s show as a medium that inspires him to do such.

There are currently 290 million Americans not watching late night television. His plan is to get them and those viewers who don’t have a favorite late-night host, to watch his show two or three times a week.

Arsenio insists that he is still the same fun host that he was way back then (minus the high top fade and shoulder pads). As for his plan of attack, Hall went on to add: “You just want to offer a good, fun show and you’re serving a unique personality that’s not there so that you’ll just be in the game.” When asked how his show will be any different from the slew of late-night shows currently on air, he says he wants to give singers and musicians a chance to talk. Typically they get the final five minutes to sing at the end of the show and the credits are rolling and the show is over.

The audience wants to hear the performers talk.

Arsenio acknowledges that some of his late night rivals have helped him to work his way back in the spotlight. Dispelling rumors that talk show host hate each other, he acknowledges when once competitor now good friend Jay Leno’s show’s “The Tonight Show” budget was cut 20% and layoffs Leno recommended one of his former writers to Hall. Arsenio hired him.

Celebrity Apprentice Winner

Arsenio was last thrust back in to the spotlight with his appearance (and win) on The Celebrity Apprentice in 2012.

He beat out former American Idol finalist Clay Aiken in the finale. Of course the win didn’t come without controversy. Many felt Aiken was a more deserving winner and fellow cast member Adam Carolla alleged that Hall’s victory was rigged by Donald Trump in order to help that season’s winner have more pulling power in landing a show. Arsenio is quoted saying “The Apprentice” was a huge boost for me,” he told The Daily News. “I’ve spent the last 13 years making turkey bacon for my son and raising him on my own. Let’s face it: I’d become Arsenio Who?”

Arsenio’s celebrity friends are excited that he’s coming back. He met with George Lopez and long time friend Eddie Murphy and shared writing submissions. He values their opinions. Everyone has been cool with him including Jimmy Kimmel, who sent him money when he was on Celebrity Apprentice to help support the Magic Johnson Foundation.

Arsenio is thrilled and looking forward to interviewing many of the now successful artist who got into the game after his last show ended like Ludacris and Usher.

Hall shared that his initial plans after his show ended was to do more acting. He had planned on bettering his craft and not be just a talk show host who was popular who got a role. He admits that achieving goals in Hollywood is tough. He wasn’t able to crack that nut the way he wanted.

Bad Boys with Martin Lawrence

He doesn’t regret passing on the movie Bad Boys with Martin Lawrence. He says he’s still happy the way his life turned out. He felt like his life needed some changes. He was supposed to spend time with his son and raise him well. Being a dad made him a better person.  He waited until his son was ready for me to be around less.  Arsenio Jr., gave him his seal of approval to get back into the game.  When asked why do late night again?

Arsenio says let me put it to you this way. An ex-girlfriend always looks better to you than somebody new, because you don’t know somebody new. Late night TV is like the woman I miss. I know I love it. And I know I can do it.



About the Author

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Sylvester Cosby