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New 'Late Late Show' Host about to Fill the Couch
March 23, 2015  | By David Bianculli
 

[Update: To hear or read my first-night review of The Late Late Show with James Corden on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, visit the Fresh Air website.]

The latest new entry in TV’s late-night landscape arrives tonight – and like his The Late Late Show predecessor on CBS, he arrives straight from the U.K., with his own ideas about how to host…

A decade ago, Craig Ferguson took over the post-David Letterman slot on CBS, and quickly and cleverly made it his own – quirky, unpredictable, and less concerned with pushing the guests’ projects than generating some entertaining conversation.

The new guy, who starts tonight at 12:37 a.m. ET, is James Corden. Broadway audiences may have caught his act the last time he brought it here from overseas, when he won a Tony for his energetic, very physical, very funny star turn in One Man, Two Guvnors. Moviegoers may have seen him as the Baker in last year’s movie version of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods film musical – and genre TV fans may know him for the guest turns on Doctor Who, while fans of Britcoms may be familiar with him from The Wrong Mans and Gavin & Stacey.

But to me, my most lasting early impression of Corden (I didn’t see him on Broadway) was when he was a guest on The Graham Norton Show, sitting on the same couch with Paul McCartney and Katy Perry. When Norton surprised them all with a pop quiz of instant rhyming – asking them to compose and recite a quick poem based on the name of audience members – it was Corden, not the internationally famous songwriters, who hit the first attempt out of the park.

During that one appearance, he was everything you’d want a late-night guest, or host, to be: quick-witted, self-effacing, talented, and someone who very definitely plays well with others.

All I know in advance about tonight’s The Late Late Show with James Corden is that he’s reportedly inviting all his guests to enter and sit at the same time – which works so well on Norton’s show.

And, I suspect, it will work so well on Corden’s as well...

 
 
 
 
 
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