Craig Ferguson is in advance talks with Tribune Media about doing a half-hour first-run comedy/talk show that would air in prime access, sources say. The CBS Late Late Show host plans to take his robot skeleton Geoff Peterson sidekick with him — along with Josh Robert Thompson, who does the robot voice. Those who’ve been watching Ferguson’s show recently have heard him make “whither I goest, you go” assurances to Robot Skeleton. Ferguson also is expected to take Secretariat, his 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. He’s set to leave the Late Late Show in December.
Ferguson’s show would have the advantage of Tribune Media’s 42-station network, including the nation’s top 3. Still, it’s a fairly risky proposition — nobody’s ever done a talk show of this sort in access. On the bright side, the ratings potential is very big. HUT levels in access are huge compared to late night — and, in success, it would put Ferguson in a powerful position in the talk show universe.
In April, the CBS late-night host announced to his studio audience he would not be re-upping his contract to host Late Late Show and would step down in December. “CBS and I are not getting divorced, we are ‘consciously uncoupling,’ but we will still spend holidays together and share custody of the fake horse and robot skeleton, both of whom we love very much,” Ferguson said in the announcement, which immediately triggered speculation as to who would replace him. (And, despite one late-night pundit’s crack that they’d be shocked if CBS went with another white male Brit to host its show, the network focused in on James Corden, who next will be seen starring as Paul Potts in the biopic One Chance for the Weinstein Company and also is slated to appear in Disney’s musical, Into The Woods).
In November, Debmar-Mercury sold the Ferguson-hosted syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game to Tribune Broadcasting stations covering 40% of the country. Based on the board game Identity Crisis, the pop culture show was developed by Courteney Cox and David Arquette’s Coquette Prods with Scott St. John. The half-hour strip is set for this fall –including on Tribune stations including WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles, and WGN Chicago — and since has doubled its clearance in the U.S.
Ferguson’s announcement he was moving on from CBS had followed David Letterman‘s news he was going to retire some time in 2015, and CBS’ announcement it was giving the time slot to Stephen Colbert. Ferguson has been Late Late Show’s host since succeeding Craig Kilborn in January 2005; his contract had been set to expire this summer.