When CBS Entertainment Chief Nina Tassler told the TV Critics Association last month that the network might be looking in a different direction for The Late Late Show in 2015, once Craig Ferguson ends his 10-year run of hosting the 12:35 a.m. hour, nobody expected that direction to be back across the pond.
And yet CBS sources confirmed to multiple media outlets on Tuesday that CBS was negotiating with James Corden — the Tony-winning British actor otherwise not known in the United States — to take over the show.
None of today’s media reports said that Corden already has the job; merely that he’s on the shortlist. Which also means CBS now has a shortlist for the job. Which makes him hosting The Late Late Show equally as possible as any of the names you’ve heard mentioned for a lead role in the second miniseries season of HBO’s True Detective. And that produced “new” names Tuesday, too.
Everyone can tell you that James Corden won the Tony Award two years ago for Best Actor in “One Man, Two Guvnors,” and that he co-created, co-starred and co-wrote Gavin & Stacey (a UK TV hit in 2007-2010), as well as The Wrong Mans, which debuted here on Hulu last fall. Or list his movie credits, which this year include the musical Begin Again and the upcoming adaptation of Into The Woods. But that’s as illuminating as having told you in 2005 that Craig Ferguson was a supporting actor on The Drew Carey Show and former punk rock drummer.
What does that have to do with hosting a late-night TV talk show?!
At least we saw Ferguson try out for the CBS job a decade ago (when the network held multiple weeklong tryouts for him, as well as Michael Ian Black and DL Hughley). What we have go on, as for Corden’s abilities in a chat-show environment, rely on his past appearances as a guest. We also know that Corden’s name was bandied about as a potential judge for this season on the UK edition of The X Factor.
And this spring, when he appeared on The Michael McIntyre Chat Show, Corden traded texts with Harry Styles from One Direction. So there’s your youth demographic? Roll the whole episode.
Or here he is for a blip with Tiny Tempeh on Chatty Man, Alan Carr’s show on Channel 4.
And this, from February, on The Jonathan Ross Show, talking about hosting The Brit Awards, aka The UK’s Grammys, for multiple years in a row. Which, as he told Ross, he thinks in the seconds before that broadcast: “Oh, don’t ruin your career tonight. That’s it. It’s a constant feeling of don’t ruin your career tonight. Just don’t say something wrong.”
When CBS execs said they thought they might skew elsewhere in 12:30 a.m. next year, perhaps what they’re really thinking about is a UK panel-format chat show. And if that’s what they’re thinking, then maybe hiring a Brit is the way to go.
After all, Corden has hosted A League of Their Own, a sports-based comedy panel game show on Sky1.
Or the network cannot think more creatively than a white male UK import for the gig? Hmmmm.
Let’s see how this all shakes out. We’re still almost five months away from the end of a most tumultuous year in American late-night TV.