The Late Late Show host James Corden was at PaleyFest with EPs Ben Winston and Rob Crabbe tonight to discuss his mission with the series in a panel moderated by The West Wing thesp Bradley Whitford. Little known outside the UK prior to his Late Late Show debut in 2015, Corden won two Emmys in 2016, quickly establishing himself as a pop culture phenomenon and late-night staple. Credit his creative and innovative segments and easy rapport with celebrity guests.
While entirely amusing, little of note came from tonight’s panel at the Dolby Theater for most of its 80 minutes, with Corden recounting the same talking points—the genesis of the series and the enormously popular Carpool Karaoke segment, and his own anxieties and doubts about the success of both. While politics and President Donald Trump are a fairly regular presence on The Late Late Show, with Corden’s Donald, The Musical parody airing earlier this week, the media-averse, orange-haired POTUS didn’t come up until the fan questions portion of the evening. Corden was asked if he would have Trump on his program as a guest.
“Obviously, we talked about it when he was running. When he was running for President, he didn’t stop by our show, but I felt like we had the absolute game to play with Donald Trump,” Corden shared. “I really felt like the game I wanted to play if he came on the show was called “Stand By, or Take It Back”… [with things] that he had said on the campaign trail, and you’d go, ‘Do you stand by it or take it back?’ I thought that was such a good game, but he never came by.”
But would Corden have Trump on the show, now that the election has played out? “I don’t know the answer to that,” Winston deadpanned to huge laughs from the crowd. “The thing is, there was the thing that happened with Jimmy Fallon, where he got quite a lot of criticism, and I thought that that was really unfair,” Corden chimed in, referring to an incident in which Fallon had ruffled the future POTUS’ hair on his own light-hearted late-night program. “I don’t think anyone asks him the right questions—I think anyone who had [Trump] on their show, I don’t think anybody took him to task or asked him the questions that needed to be done.”
With Corden’s initial comments on the subject of Trump, Whitford pushed forward with the line of questioning, asking how he hopes to handle the chaotic political sphere on his show. “I always get quite annoyed … because I don’t think we’re a political show,” he said. “We’re definitely not, not a political show, but I’m pretty sure we’re the only late-night show to talk about the Syrian refugee crisis on our show. We talk about Donald Trump almost every night on our show, and I think anyone watching our show would know where we stand, but we all come from a place where we don’t feel like we do these shows every day for them to be the same every day. We think that our show takes swings, and when we take them, you will absolutely know where we stand.”
Corden cited as an example a video—released around the time of Trump’s first attempted travel ban—in which the host travels through an airport, with the video ending on the phrase “Freedom of travel should be this easy for all immigrants—not just the white, Christian ones.”
“So the way we balance it is that we try to always talk about it, but then we don’t want to be obsessed with it. … I’m very proud of the line we tread,” he concluded.
Never one to remain too serious for too long, with signature Corden grace, the host invited a long string of PaleyFest attendees to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime experience: a Carpool Karaoke session with Corden himself.
Among a number of creative and innovative segments from the mind of Corden, Carpool Karaoke has compelled such musical powerhouses as Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Madonna and Bruno Mars—along with former FLOTUS Michelle Obama—to join the musically talented Corden for a ride-along sing-along. The gravitational pull of the segment, and its constant presence in the viral feed, has even resulted in a spinoff Carpool Karaoke series distributed by Apple Music, with Corden serving as an executive producer.