“Ever since Ben and Rob and I started talking about the show, we keep coming back to the word ‘warmth,'” Corden said today sitting onstage at the TCA Winter Press Tour in Pasadena with his exec producers Ben Winston and Rob Crabbe. “I feel like in this current climate in this time, I want to make a warm show. Because so much of what you see and read and are polluted by is not pleasant right now, we feel if we can make a show that reaches out to people and reminds them are still wonderful things and it is still great, that we could do that,” Corden said. And, wrapping up that thought, he said he’d “love to make a warm show that’s really funny.”
Winston told the press in the room, “The advantage we have over other [late-night] producers is that we don’t need to follow format. In James we’ve got a performer who can do so many things. It’s going to be a show that will be quite varied and a show people will turn on at night and not know what they’re going to see” from one night to the next. “That will be the joy of it, that you’re not entirely sure.”
Crabbe, meanwhile, acknowledged that the press in the room have no doubt heard other new late-night hosts on this same stage vow their new show will not open with a traditional monologue followed by two guests plugging new movies, followed by a music act playing out the show (they have), only to have their shows doing just that six months in (they did). But Corden is not the “traditional stand up comedian” and is best suited to playing “host of a great party at 12:30.”
They insisted there is “no blueprint” for Late Late Show with James Corden, with Corden cutting off Crabbe when the EP nearly divulged some detail that seemed to do with “love to be able to get guests out pretty early.”
TV critics, who hate uncertainty, kept chipping away at Corden with the traditional New Late Night Host Press Tour Q&A Beauty Pageant Questions:
– What’s the format?
– Who’s your first guest?
– Who are your dream guests?
– Which American late night talk show host do you most admire?
– Who are your comedy influences?
Blah, blah, blah.
“Our first musical guest is going to be Barack Obama,” Corden joked, hoping the critics would get the message.
They did not.
At one point the din of simultaneous question shouting got so loud Corden marveled “Wait — It’s like you just spend two minutes in my own head!”
When it did not stop and even grew louder, he screamed “SHUT UP!!! STOP IT!!!”
And when one reporter emerged as the frontrunner, and began to ask his question, Corden cut him off: “Why do you think you’re the person?”
Another reporter got up to leave the room as Corden was in mid-answer.
“Where are you going?” Corden interrupted himself to ask the guy. “Do you need the bathroom?” as the reporter slunk back to his chair.
“You go. We’ll wait,” Corden said graciously.
Corden, who CBS programming chief Nina Tassler has said dances like Fred Astaire ,but calls his own dance moves “being a dick,” did a lot of that on stage as the BPQ’s persisted. Corden’s actually very good at deflecting questions with polite comments about how the talent gene pool in latenight/at Golden Globe Awards/in this country/in the world is so huge he would not know where to begin. Only after about the 37th time he got asked to name “just a few” dream guests did he cut it off with, “it would be boring.” It was immediately followed by yet another question in re which late-night host had most influenced him — this time wondering if it was Graham Norton. Resisting the urge to clomp the critic on the head with a blunt instrument, Corden acknowledge that, having grown up in the UK, his late-night TV hosting knowledge is more informed by British hosts than American ones, though he had nice things to say about nearly every American late night host of the past five years — Dave Letterman’s “formal informality,” Jay Leno’s monologues – yes, really – Jimmy Fallon’s boyish enthusiasm, Seth Meyer’s incredible niceness, and so on.
More than one journalist in the room wondered why Corden, who’s film career appeared to be taking off with the release of Into The Woods, would want to strap himself down to the grind of a nightly one-hour late-night talk show. “People get carried away about how fulfilling making a movie is,” Corden responded without hesitation. Into the Woods was a terrific film experience, but hardly typical, he said, describing movie making as a process in which you spend a lot of time in a cold trailer in a parking lot, using a low toilet that you flush with your foot. “I learned when doing One Man, Two Guvnors is that what a I really love is a day with a point and a focus. And the best thing about this show is I’ll wake up in the morning and say ‘What are we going to do tonight?’ and we do it… and its gone and there’s another one tomorrow. In terms of being creatively fulfilled don’t know if there’s a better thing I can do with my time,” he said, while acknowledging he hasn’t actually done it yet – just guessing.
Speaking of beauty pageant questions, one reporter got dressed down a bit when he asked Corden if he was going to miss his fave football team living in the U.S. “Soccer, as you know it, is the least of the things” Corden said he would miss. “I’m going to miss my parents and my friends. And I have a 3-year-old son and a 9-week-old daughter, and if I think about how far I’m taking them away from their grandparents it’s enough to make me cry.”
Earlier in the day, CBS programming chief Nina Tassler got asked to explain the “unusual choice” of Corden to replace Craig Ferguson on Late Late Show.
“I saw James Corden years ago in a show called One Man, Two Guvnors on Broadway. You knew that you were in the presence of someone a little crazy and someone incredibly talented,” Tassler said. CBS execs looked at many people for the gig, but when she and CBS Corp chairman Les Moonves met with Corden in New York, “to say we were mesmerized by him is an understatement,” Tassler added.
“You couldn’t take your eyes off of him. He is so vibrant, so entertaining. He is a fearless actor, and he is a multi-hyphenate — I mean, he’s an actor, he’s a writer, he’s a performer, he’s a singer, he’s a dancer…He’s pretty magic.”
For those not familiar with Corden’s background on interview programming — of which the critic who asked the “unusual choice” appears to be one — Tassler explained she had watched Corden’s hosting the sorts-based game show A League of Their Own in the UK, and discovered “how facile he was in the interview format, how he exudes such warmth, and that any of the people that he was interviewing — they just adored him. There are the funniest segments with him and David Beckham. It doesn’t matter who he talks to, they fall under his spell, and he’s enchanting.”
Last month, CBS announced Late Late Show would get a band for the first time in its history, and that its premiere would be pushed from March 9 to March 23, allowing more time to prep and promoted during the network’s March Madness coverage. CBS Prods. is the studio, taking over David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants which had produced Late Late Show, originally created by Letterman, since its launch.