Arsenio Hall talks return to late-night TV

July 31, 2013

It’s been two decades since Arsenio Hall anchored a talk show, but on Sept. 9, he’ll try again with a new syndicated late-night series — though the wildly different TV landscape offers some challenges.


Arsenio Hall participates in a panel at the CBS Summer TCA. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

“It’s hard to get people to even watch you and make appointments for television,” Hall told a group of reporters and critics at the Television Critics Association press tour this week, adding, “Your biggest fan doesn’t watch you every night. You hope for three nights … and two nights they’ll be watching other people.”

Hall’s show debuts on Sept. 9 at 11 p.m. on stations across the country (including WDCW in Washington), joining an increasingly crowded late-night field. Not only with Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, John Stewart and the rest, but newer cable endeavors, such as W. Kamau Bell’s late-night show on FX.

Hall, who helped raise his mainstream profile in recent years with a stint (and win) on “Celebrity Apprentice,” indicated he’s friendly with his competition — and even hired one of the writers that Jay Leno had to let go when NBC cut “The Tonight Show” budget.

In addition to more competitors, there’s also new technology. Hall joked he once received a fax from Debbie Gibson asking to appear on his show in the ’90s — so who knows what the world of Twitter and Google will hold?

Meanwhile, while Hall speculated about the future, he also pointed to one of his most memorable moments from his former show, which ran from 1989 to 1994: An appearance from Bill Clinton, who famously performed a saxophone solo when he was a presidential candidate. That appearance wound up influencing the political world, as wanna-be politicos realized they had a whole new way to reach people with appearances on entertainment shows.

“It kind of changed the way people campaign,” Hall said.

Hank Stuever contributed to this report.

Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for the Post. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyYahr.
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