September 6, 2013

Arsenio fulfills his dream with late-night return

It's been nearly 25 years since Arsenio Hall debuted his show as the cool, hip alternative to NBC's 'Tonight Show' titan Johnny Carson.

The Associated Press

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This Nov. 3, 2012 file photo shows Arsenio Hall performing at "Eddie Murphy: One Night Only," a celebration of Murphy's career in Beverly Hills, Calif. After two decades, Hall is returning to late night television with "The Arsenio Hall Show," premiering on Sept. 9. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

"When people ask that, I'm like, 'Well, NO ONE knew me the FIRST time!' I used to joke that people thought Arsenio Hall was a dorm at UCLA. So don't I have a better shot THIS time?"

A quarter-century ago, he broke the late-night color barrier, but in many ways his show was refreshingly color-blind. Inclusiveness is his goal again.

"I became 'the black show' before because the other shows were really, really not," he said. "But now (ABC late-night host Jimmy) Kimmel's MUCH blacker than me: He is juiced in to everybody from Kobe (Bryant) to (rapper) Rick Ross."

Besides, talk shows traffic in many of the same guests, Hall observed. What distinguishes one show from the next is its host and how he interacts with those guests.

With opening night just around the corner, Hall will be receiving his first guests soon and staking his new claim in late night.

"I don't even know if I can live through that first minute," he said excitedly. "You come out there, back after a billion years, there's gonna be all kind of animal noises and people screaming. What do you say? 'It was a long doggone hiatus'?"

But he used a stronger word than "doggone," then burst into laughter.

 

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