The network did not name a date, saying only he would take the reins in 2015, replacing Ferguson, who announced April 28 he would step down in December. Word first trickled out nearly a month ago that CBS had lassoed Corden to step in — despite much speculation CBS would not go with another white guy — and another Brit to boot.
CBS likewise did not say whether Corden’s program would be based in New York or Los Angeles. Stephen Colbert, who’s taking over for David Letterman as host of CBS’s Late Show some time in ‘15, will be based in New York; and CBS is taking over production, and ownership, of both programs – Letterman’s Worldwide Pants produces Letterman’s show and co-produces Ferguson’s with CBS.
In Monday’s announcement, CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler said Corden “is already a big star in the UK and he’s wowed American audiences on Broadway. We’re very excited to introduce his considerable and very unique talents to our network television audience on a daily basis.”
She called Corden “the ultimate multi-hyphenate – a writer, creator and performer who is loved and respected in every medium he touches, including theater, comedy, music, film and television.”
Currently, Corden can be seen in John Carney’s music-minded feature Begin Again, starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. He also will star opposite Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and Emily Blunt in the feature adaptation of Broadway musical Into the Woods, which hits theaters in December. Additionally, Corden hosts the BAFTA Award-winning UK sports-themed comedy game show A League of Their Own on Sky 1 and stars in, produces and writes the BAFTA-nominated comedy thriller The Wrong Mans, which is available on Hulu and airs on the BBC.
Corden attracted international attention as the lead in comedy One Man, Two Guvnors, first at the National Theatre and on the West End in London and then on Broadway, where he won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play. Additional theater credits include the worldwide tour of The History Boys in the lead role of Timms, whom he also played in the feature film adaptation. A spring 2015 Broadway revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum had been planned around Corden when he got the Late Late Show offer. Although the producers gave him an amicable sendoff, the production went into the Broadway equivalent of turnaround and hasn’t been heard from since.
Corden’s not the first multi-hyphenate CBS considered for its late-night lineup. In May, Neil Patrick Harris confirmed a report that CBS CEO Leslie Moonves had asked if he’d be interested in doing a late-night show for the network. Harris told Howard Stern’s radio show his conversation with Moonves happened before Letterman announced he would next year, but as CBS already was looking at a possible future without Letterman, in case Dave decided not to renew his two-year contract. The conversation also happened as Harris’ How I Met Your Mother gig was winding down.
Harris has become a member in good standing of the Les Moonves Repertoire Theatre, not only starring in HIMYM but also becoming a CBS go-to guy for trophy-show hosting – which, in turn, has been a great way to promote his CBS primetime comedy series. (Look for CBS to do same with Corden on the Tonys). Harris stressed to Stern that he was “not in conversation like about-to-make-a-deal — but they called me in and sat me down and asked if it was something I’d be interested in, because I have a good relationship with them from How I Met Your Mother.“
Harris’ said his reaction in that meeting: “It surprised me [Moonves] pitched me that idea… I told him what concerned me about the longevity of that kind of gig. I think I would get bored of the repetition fast. The structure is so set — I don’t have any interest in doing Monologue, Commercial, Sketch, Guest, Guest, Musical Act, Good Night.”
Corden is 36 years old, which makes him the youngest of the crop of recently named broadcast late-night hosts. His NBC time-slot competitor, Seth Meyers, is 40. In the earlier time slot, NBC’s Jimmy Fallon is 39, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel is 46, and Colbert is 50.
More numbers: Corden has 4.37 million Twitter followers, though it’s unclear how many of them will translate into U.S. Nielsen viewers. Regardless, his tally rivals that of Jimmy Kimmel (4.29 million). Meyers boasts 2.51 million, and both are eclipsed by Colbert’s 6.87 million, and Fallon’s 14.5 million.
Meanwhile, Ferguson is in advanced talks with Tribune Media about doing a half-hour first-run comedy/talk show that would air in prime access. Ferguson plans to take his robot skeleton Geoff Peterson sidekick with him — along with Josh Robert Thompson, who does the robot voice. Also expected to join Ferguson in his new show: Secretariat the pantomime horse, and his longtime showrunner Michael Naidus. It’s expected that the new show, which would target a fall 2016 launch, would be shot in Los Angeles.