Arsenio Hall is getting ready to come back to the small screen with a talk show, and opens up about his past experiences with the first show and acting.
It’s been 19 years since he was last a late night syndicated talk show host; in this interview with The Hollywood Reporter senior editor Alex Ben Block, he opens up about the abrupt end of that show, his life in the intervening years, his own self image and what he hopes his new show will be like.
THR: When did you decide to return to late night TV?
Hall: I’ve been working on this for five years. It’s amazing to look back and say, “Wow, what do I have to do to get on this road?”
THR: What was the trigger after such a long time?
Hall: I always loved it but I needed to diversify my life and do some other things. There are moments I can pin it to. Me and George Lopez were gong to go to a Lakers game one night so I was hanging out in his dressing room. He was doing Lopez Tonight. He had an assistant come get me. He knew I was the first one to put Snoop Dogg on TV and he wanted me to introduce him on his show. When I did it, it was kind of like kissing an old girlfriend. I thought, “Oh God I love this. I really love this.” I realized I missed it.”
THR: Did that start you toward the new show?
Hall: Not right away. I have one kid, who is now 13. I’ve tried to never be away from him more than 48 hours. I told him what I was thinking about and he said, “Dad I think you should do it. You can win it.” That was all I needed to hear.
THR: Take us back to 1994. Why was your show canceled? It had been such a big hit at one time.
Hall: It wasn’t canceled. I resigned. Sure there was an erosion of the numbers (audience ratings) as shows tend to do in year five or six. You are a little lower this year than last year. But the show never stopped making money, never stopped being profitable for Paramount.
THR: Why did you walk away?
Hall: I actually thought I needed changes in my life and I need to try other things. I wanted to do things professionally like stand-up, and try some acting. I felt my whole life needed broadening. I didn’t have a family. Everything I had done was a gamble because I felt if I missed it as some point, I could get back in. I could still walk into a comedy club and make people laugh every night. That’s what I do. And I could be home in the morning to make breakfast and take my kid to school. What I was confused about was that when you go from being on every night to just being a stand-up, your visibility is on a whole different level.
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