The revamping of late-night TV continues as a fresh face enters the arena.
Meet the new comedic contender in CBS’s corner: James Corden. Never heard of him? CBS isn’t worried; they’re betting on the big talents of their British find.
It’s risky business for the network, but we like their confidence in making such a bold move, selecting an overseas performer — well known in the U.K. but a relative unknown in the U.S. — over the American talents angling for the gig.
A native of High Wycombe, England, Corden, 36, was just as shocked as everyone else when he landed the job as the replacement for Scotsman Craig Ferguson, who exited The Late Late Show in December after a 10-year run as host.
“There is just no rhyme or reason why I should be given the opportunity to host a late-night talk show and talk to America every night and hopefully try and make them smile before they fall asleep,” Corden told TV critics at a press conference in Los Angeles in January.
“If I’d have told my 12-year-old self that [this] would happen, my head would explode,” Corden added.
Before The Late Late Show with James Corden debuts on Monday, March 23rd (airing weeknights at 12:35 a.m. on CBS), here are a handful of things to know about the newly crowned talk show host.
1. So, just who is James Corden, anyway?
Corden, the married father of two young children, is a multi-talented performer — an actor, comedian, Tony winner, writer, producer and now late-night host. He might be best known for co-writing and co-starring in the hit BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacey (2007-2010). He’s also appeared on the big screen, co-starring in recent films such as Into the Woods with Meryl Streep and Begin Again with Keira Knightley. Corden may also be familiar to Broadway fans: He won a Best Actor Tony Award in 2012 for One Man, Two Guvnors.
2. Expect a few tweaks to the usual American late-night format.
The new Late, Late Show producers plan to “respect the traditions of late night,” while giving the show their own twists. “You don’t want to look like the arrogant British guy who has no respect for the very institution that we’re taking on,” Corden acknowledged.
A few things that will be different: Don’t expect a traditional monologue; watch for the guests to come out and sit together (similar to the BBC’s Graham Norton Show); and look for stocked bar next to the couch (a la Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live).
Corden’s very first guest will be Tom Hanks. Look for him to be joined on the couch by actress Mila Kunis. Other guests lined up for Corden’s premiere week debut include Kerry Washington (Tuesday), Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell (Wednesday).
3. People shouldn’t wonder if “British humor will translate to American audiences.”
“Funny is funny,” according to Corden. “I think if it’s good, it travels.”
As for the tone he’s hoping for, “We want to make a warm show, a show that never feels spiky…”
4. He’ll be the young gun of the late-night bunch, as all of the networks work to skew younger across the board.
At age 36, Corden clocks in as the only under-40 late-night host on broadcast TV (Fallon is exactly 40), so CBS is making a clear grab at targeting the desirable younger demo. Corden already has a solid social media base with 4.9 million Twitter followers, so look for a lot of viral videos a la the two Jimmys (Fallon and Kimmel).
5. Yes, he’s nervous…especially since he still doesn’t know exactly what the show will look like.
“The truth is we could prep for this show for a year. It’s only in the doing of it that it’s going to tell us what it is,” Corden told reporters. “We’re going to make mistakes, and we’re going to get things wrong, but hopefully, we’re going to get something right as well. And I think we have a really great shot with the team that we’re putting together of making a show that finds its own audience, a group of people who go, ‘This is the person I want to sit with as I cozy up in bed, and this is the person that’s going to make me feel like everything’s going to be all right.’”
The Late Late Show with James Corden premieres Monday, March 23rd on CBS.