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Future 'Late Late Show' Host James Corden Meets the Press - And Impresses
January 12, 2015  | By David Bianculli  | 1 comment

PASADENA, CA – James Corden, 36, appointed the next host of CBS’s The Late Late Show, appeared Monday for his inaugural Television Critics Association press conference – and made a strong first impression…

There wasn’t a lot of news to be disseminated. The Late Late Show with James Corden doesn’t premiere until March 23, and the British actor and writer, appearing on stage alongside executive producers Ben Winston and Rob Crabbe, joked, “We’ve been working on the show for exactly four days.”

Yet Corden and company confessed they’ve thought of little else the past several months, and though none of the three would commit to any details about the upcoming show’s opening guests, or even its overall format, there were both hints and overall guidelines, for those who listened carefully and read between the lines.

At one point, Crabbe seemed about to suggest that his talk-show guests might be brought out relatively rapidly (as they are, all at once, on BBC America’s British import The Graham Norton Show, though Crabbe didn’t say that) – when Corden begged him not to say more.

That format would make sense, though, because that sort of format is unusual these days in the States – and when appearing as a guest on Norton’s program, Corden not only held his own with, but briefly stole the spotlight from, fellow couch mates Paul McCartney and Katy Perry.

What Corden did say specifically, though, was that he wanted his late-night program to be “a show that feels warm,” and that “is really funny.” And what shone through in the press conference is a glimpse of the personality to be relayed nationwide by CBS in two months: a talented writer-performer who can sing and dance; is prominently and effectively featured in the current Into the Woods movie musical; won a Tony on Broadway for his imported comedy showcase One Man, Two Guvnors; starred in England's Gavin & Stacey and The Wrong Mans; is very enthusiastic about and respectful of his fellow performers; and is both charmingly self-deprecating and disarmingly honest.

Born and raised in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, England, Corden said his own talk-show heroes, as a matter of geography, were United Kingdom hosts, such as Jonathan Ross and Michael Parkinson. “I hope,” he said, “that I can bring a flavor of the people that I’ve loved and admired from home.”

But as both a guest and a viewer, he’s done his homework regarding today’s U.S. TV hosts as well. Corden had nice things to say across the board.

Regarding David Letterman, on whose show Corden already has appeared: “I’m amazed by how relaxed he was. There’s a formal informality, if you like, to his approach to dealing with you – and I felt so supported by him when we went to commercial or whatever… I feel so lucky to be placed in a chair, even in the same vicinity, of him. I’ve been watching quite a bit of Letterman’s 12:30 show, when he started, and… It’s jaw-dropping how good it is.”

Corden singled out former Tonight Show host Jay Leno for his “incredible” monologues, and current Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon for his “core enthusiasm.” Corden said he told Fallon recently that the example of his show “inspires me and terrifies me at the same time.” He also praised the man he’s replacing as Late Late Show host, Craig Ferguson, for his interviewing style, which Corden described as “some of the most organic and off-the-cuff and brilliantly judged moments I’ve seen.” And even Corden’s time-slot competitor, Seth Meyers of Late Night, gets praise from Corden as both a genial TV host and a genuinely nice man – two compliments that are bound to come Corden’s way quite fluidly come March.

“The truth is,” Corden told the assembled reporters, “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.”

In the meantime, Corden closed his press conference with an unplanned but telling glimpse of what must have wowed CBS executives Nina Tassler and Leslie Moonves when they met with Corden about the possibility of replacing Ferguson on their network. Corden, asked a friendly and light final question about whether he’d miss rooting for his favorite football team (soccer, to those of us on this side of the Atlantic) while living in the U.S. to do his talk show, took the opportunity to veer away from a punch line, and be completely, and impressively, honest.

 “The things I’m going to miss,” Corden replied, “are my family and my friends. I have a three-year-old son and a nine-week-old daughter, and if I think about how far I’m taking them away from their grandparents, it’s enough to make you cry.

“So those are the things I’ll miss, and those are the reasons that I have to make it the very thing that it is: a wonderful opportunity to do something brilliant.”

With that sort of perspective, and honesty, don’t bet against him…

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A brave choice for CBS, though I know him from the fab Gavin & Stacey UK series, amongst other things. I wonder if anyone knows why BBC America suddenly stopped showing the fab Graham Norton show!! Middle of season, no explanation...it's the only reason for me to have that channel..soo sick of round-the-clock Top Gear and sci-fi!!!
Jan 31, 2015   |  Reply
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