×

TCA: Robin Williams, Arsenio Hall Add Nostalgic Touch to CBS’ Press Tour

Latenight host's return highlights difficulty grooming talk talent

Depending on one’s point of view, the back-to-back appearances by Robin Williams — in a new sitcom — and Arsenio Hall — in a new latenight talkshow — at CBS’ portion of the TV Critics Assn. tour are either a warm note of nostalgia, or an indictment of the industry’s failure to groom new talent.

Williams was decidedly low-key during his session in connection with “The Crazy Ones,” his new CBS comedy, other than an apparent obsession with joking about New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. Asked about the difference between doing a TV show now and the days of “Mork & Mindy,” he quipped, “The last time I was on TV ‘wired’ meant a gram and a bottle of Jack Daniels.”

If Williams sounded happy just to have a regular gig, Hall, by contrast — after a promo clip that said, “The legend returns to latenight” — was an exhausting ball of energy, leaping to tout his new program even before the publicist could introduce him.

“I’m trying to be in the game,” Hall said of the seemingly crowded latenight landscape, while frequently referencing highlights from the past show, such as Bill Clinton’s saxophone-playing appearance and its influence on the way presidential candidates approach media

Having once famously said he was going to “kick Leno’s ass” in the ratings, he likened his relationship with Jay Leno today to two great boxers who can appreciate each other more once they’ve left the ring.

Exec producer Neal Kendall said the show will push music front and center, as opposed to just making it the last few minutes of the hour, as often happens elsewhere. But it was pretty clear from the session that like most latenight fare, one’s appreciation of “The Arsenio Hall Show” will be host dependent, not guest dependent.

The other exec producer, John Ferriter, also cited a desire to span a demographic swatch from those who were viewers of the first show to a younger contingent to whom it’s barely a memory.

Hall was correct on one point: However much the world has changed since “Arsenio” shook up latenight, the fundamentals haven’t really changed.

By that measure, Hall and Williams are back “in the game” for a simple reason: Despite all the people out there dying to get the call to play, there are never enough who truly can — or at least, who the networks are comfortable letting carry the ball.

More TV

  • Claire Denis attends the 32nd European

    Claire Denis and Phedon Papamichael Join Doha Film Institute's Qumra Lineup

    The Doha Film Institute has added French auteur Claire Denis and Oscar-nominated cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (“Nebraska”) to the lineup of star talent who will act as mentors for the Qumra Masters program during its upcoming Qumra event dedicated to fostering fresh Arab film fare that is opening up to TV projects. They join previously announced [...]

  • Rihanna

    Rihanna Pleads for Equality at NAACP Image Awards: 'Tell Your Friends to Pull Up'

    Rihanna was the recipient of the NAACP President’s Award. The honor is bestowed on an entertainer whose commitment to philanthropy is unparalleled. Rihanna, whose chosen charities include the Clara Lionel Foundation, Raising Malawi and UNICEF and was honored as Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017, was in attendance for the NAACP Image Awards show, [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Jane Sanders. Democratic presidential

    Bernie Sanders Projected to Win Nevada Democratic Caucus

    Bernie Sanders is now projected to win the Nevada caucus. Per the Associated Press, Sanders has captured 54% of the delegates with 4% of precincts reporting on Saturday afternoon. Joe Biden is currently in a distant second with 17.8%, while Elizabeth Warren rose to third with 10%. Pete Buttigieg is in fourth place with 8.7%, [...]

  • Lizzo51st Annual NAACP Image Awards, Arrivals,

    NAACP Winners 2020: The Complete List

    Lizzo was named Entertainer of the Year at the 51st NAACP Image Awards on Saturday. The singer-rapper edged out Angela Bassett, Billy Porter, Regina King and Tyler Perry for the night’s top prize. Warner Bros.’ legal drama “Just Mercy,” meanwhile, nearly swept the top film awards, taking home best motion picture, ensemble, best actor (Michael [...]

  • Leonine Takes International Rights to Premium

    Leonine Takes International Rights to Premium Series 'Herzogpark'

    German media group Leonine has taken international distribution rights to the six-part premium series “Herzogpark,” following a deal with its producers Letterbox Filmproduktion (“Bad Banks”). The rights for German-speaking territories are held by Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland. The dramedy centers on four women from Munich’s upscale Herzogpark district, for whom keeping secrets has become a life’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content