“We don’t have a clip of the show, we don’t even know what the show is going to be, to tell you the truth,” Comedy Central’s programming chief Kent Alterman joked, we think, of Larry Wilmore’s new late night show for the network, to TV critics this afternoon after a long day at Winter TV Press Tour 2015. After which The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore’s exec producer Rory Albanese – a veteran of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, said — not joking — that they had not yet done any test shows for the show that’s replacing Stephen Colbert in the 11:30 PM timeslot starting a week from Monday. Their first test show will happen Monday.
In much the same way Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show “is cousin to the nightly newscast, Wilmore described his new show as a cousin to the Sunday Beltway shows This Week and Meet the Press, Wilmore described. “ One of the titles I had was Meet the Rest,” he recalled.
The show will open with Wilmore’s scripted take on events of the day; the second segment will be devoted to a panel discussion where those topics are deconstructed. Regular contributors will perform a variety of functions, including reporting comic pieces from the field, and participating in the panel discussion. “We’re finding out what all that means right now as we do test shows” he said, adding that some of it will be figured out on the air.
They dumped the series’ original name, The Minority Report, when they started hearing from Fox lawyers after the network picked up a series adaptation of its feature film, Minority Report. So long as Comedy Central called the show by its full name, The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore,” they were on solid ground – to which Wilmore said his reaction was, “Well then, let’s just call it Star Wars with Larry Wilmore – let’s go big!”
Ultimately, they decided to name was unwieldy for social media and other platforms, and changed it to The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, which Wilmore liked for its various interpretations: “If you’re watching The Daily Show and it feels like it’s getting darker, it’s probably The Nightly Show,” Wilmore joked. And while Minority Report was provocative, “that can work for you or against you” and would sometimes have to be “undefined.” “The Nightly Show doesn’t have to be explained — you don’t have to meet expectations,” Wilmore said.
One critic asked the “is this your life’s dream” beauty pageant question. After pronouncing himself a “huge fan of Johnny Carson growing up,” he acknowledged there’s “a certain age where that tends to happen.” Wilmore is 53. He also made a passing quip about a “different demographic — but that’s a different story.” Wilmore noted he’d done some talk show specials for Showtime which ultimately was not picked up to series and had chatted with Comedy Central about doing a talk show a couple years ago when the network didn’t have the “real estate.”
Asked if the show was being hurried to air so as to premiere on Martin Luther King Day, Wilmore joked ”I have a dream that a brother needed to work on that day,” then insisted the date was chosen because it was the start of the week, adding, “I’ll probably have to call attention to it, now that you brought it up. Thanks for that.”