While the latenight world was buzzing about Jay Leno’s round of exit interviews, Craig Ferguson worked the Debmar-Mercury cabana at the NATPE confab on Monday afternoon, shaking hands and taking pictures with station execs to promote his new syndie game show “Celebrity Name Game.”
The host of CBS’ “Late Late Show” was a big draw especially for a confab that is light on marquee talent this year. Debmar-Mercury has already cleared “Name Game” in the vast expanse of the country for a fall launch, but Ferguson was game for flesh-pressing duty poolside at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach because he knows that station managers are the first line of defense for any new syndicated show.
“Name Game” was originally developed as an hourlong primetime series for CBS by Courteney Cox and David Arquette’s production banner. Ferguson stuck with it as it morphed into syndication because he likes the game — and he likes to work.
“It’s easy,” he said of “Name Game.” “It’s light and fun, you don’t have to try to hard (to play) along.” He also likes the opportunity to interact with the every day folks who team with celebs to answer celeb-oriented questions.
While Ferguson talked lead-ins and time slots with station managers from around the country, he’s also watching from the sidelines all the drama in his day-job sector of latenight TV.
Asked what he thinks of getting a new competitior at 12:35 a.m. as Jimmy Fallon moves up to “The Tonight Show” and Seth Meyers moves to “Late Night,” Ferguson emphasized that he doesn’t look at the time slot as a zero-sum game. “I just do my show. My show is not like any other show out there. I just do the show I want to do for me.”
Ferguson smiled and shvitzed a little in the humid Miami afternoon air before adding: “All I know about latenight is that the guy who was No. 1 in his time slot for 15 years was fired twice, so you’d better be careful about being No. 1 in your time slot.”