We reported yesterday that Celebrity Apprentice winner Arsenio Hall will return to late-night TV in the fall of 2013. As witnessed in a recent Inside TV podcast prior to his Apprentice victory, Hall is both a gracious guy and a gifted gabber. But, nearly two decades after The Arsenio Hall Show went off the air, Hall faces an entirely new TV landscape. With more channels and an exodus of new generation late-night icons like Conan O’Brien and fellow stand-up comedians Chelsea Handler and Kathy Griffin to cable, can a post-millennial Arsenio work? Below, a few suggestions…
YouthTube. Hall’s success in the early ’90s came from a shifting tide that saw him as the go-to guy for an upswinging younger generation who wanted an alternative to then King of Late Night Johnny Carson. If Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen are any indication, that young generation is as demanding as ever (if perhaps a little more adorable). Hall can capitalize on this continuing wave to form a foundation for his success this time around, but he’ll have to get a little creative and…
Go viral. Similarly, some of the greatest successes of late-night TV from the last 10 years have been spun from viral videos, including Saturday Night Live‘s “Lazy Sunday” and Jimmy Kimmel’s “I’m F—ing Matt Damon.” Hall showed off his versatility in playing many different characters in Coming to America, and he seems more primed to create these impact videos than most of his competitors. (Even Jimmy Fallon favors games and live performances.) Hall could step outside the monologue-then-headlines box and offer up a video instead.
Don’t be afraid to call on famous friends. Hall could summon Eddie Murphy and MC Hammer when they were at their peaks back in the day. With Jimmy Fallon pulling in Justin Timberlake and his SNL cohorts, Hall can’t be stingy with his connections. From Donald Trump to the judges from The Voice, Hall has a solid core of people he can use as ratings rockets. (I know I’d personally tune in to see Lisa Lampanelli ripping into her fellow guests at least once a week.) On a related note…
Nostalgia never loses its appeal. Hall was at his best in an era that people have begun to remember with the warmth of nostalgia. Fallon has already pulled together some amazing TV reunions. Perhaps Hall could take it to the next level with his film buddies.
Stay away from politics. Hall’s hour-long interview with controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in 1994 was widely considered that death blow to his show. Though booking Bill Clinton to play the sax was a huge deal back 20 years ago, President Barack Obama regularly appears on the talk show circuit today. As much as Hall could add to the conversation, politics on late-night is played-out PR right now.
Hall certainly has a lot of ground to cover before his show premieres, and he’d do well to experiment a little. Though Conan, Leno, and Letterman are succeeding with the tried-and-true talk show formula, the hosts who have really broken out in the last few years have stayed away from that format. Whether it’s a panel (Chelsea Lately) or a shortened 30-minute show (Watch What Happens Live), the hosts who mix up the format have been the ones who have stayed afloat.
All right, Arsenio. You have 15 months. Pick up your phone and start brainstorming… now!
Arsenio Hall returning to late night
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