James Corden debuted as the host of CBS’s “The Late Late Show” on March 23 and quickly demonstrated how some aspects of his show will be different from his predecessors and others who are working on the late-night circuit.
Corden recently acted in the 2014 films “Into the Woods” and “Begin Again” and won a Tony for his work in the play “One Man, Two Guvnors.”
“James is already a big star in the U.K. and he’s wowed American audiences on Broadway," Nina Tassler, CBS entertainment chairman, said when announcing Corden as the replacement for Craig Ferguson, "We’re very excited to introduce his considerable and very unique talents to our network television audience on a daily basis.”
It’s already a crowded late-night landscape, with Jimmy Fallon at NBC dominating the conversation with his often instantly viral celebrity interviews and performances. So how is Corden separating himself from the pack?
One practice came to light before Corden’s first episode aired: as reported by the Associated Press, Corden’s iteration of “Late Late” will have all the night’s guests on at the same time as opposed to each coming out singly. And as noted by Lisa de Moraes of Deadline, Corden moved out from behind the desk to talk to guests Tom Hanks and Mila Kunis. In addition, when Hanks and Kunis entered, they came in via stairs that went through the audience.
How else will you know you’re watching Corden’s show and not Jimmy Kimmel’s or, once he debuts, Colbert? According to some reviews, the actor’s theatrical background was on display in one routine in which he and Hanks quickly went through various scenes from movies in which Hanks appeared. “More than anything, it felt like a touch of old-fashioned variety, in a good way,” Variety critic Brian Lowry wrote, while Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter called it “[the] standout moment by far… [it] played to Corden’s strengths as a multi-talented performer.”
Corden also comes across as different personality-wise than some of his predecessors, according to some critics. “Unlike Letterman (and to a degree Craig Ferguson, who was content to simply be goofy much of the time), Corden comes across as natural and likable,” Lowry wrote, while Goodman called him “engaging… The glaring difference is that [Corden] comes without almost any snark, which is a modern American late-night talk show host must-have quality that was only recently spurned by Jimmy Fallon. Corden doesn’t put a layer of cool between him and the viewer (or his guests) – he’s as affable and sincere as Fallon with just a little less goofiness.” Michael Slezak of TVLine agreed, calling him “charming and unexpectedly earnest.”
We’ll see how Corden separates himself from the pack even further as his stint on “Late Late” goes on.