×

Listen: Seth Meyers Talks Woman Late-Night Hosts, Lorne Michaels and ‘Material Monster’ Trump

Seth Meyers became host of “Late Night” — the franchise that had, in previous iterations, been home to David Letterman, then Conan O’Brien, then Jimmy Fallon — in 2014. The first conversation he had with anyone about taking over the show was on the phone with executive producer Lorne Michaels, who called Meyers while the comic was touring on the road.

“When you talk to Lorne Michaels, oftentimes it seems like follow-up call to a conversation you haven’t had,” Meyers told Variety‘s “TV Take” podcast. “So he picks it up as if you’ve already talked about the possibility of you hosting a late-night talk show.” When the call ended, “I hung up the phone and I thought, ‘Wait, did Lorne just tell me that I’m going to host “Late Night”?’ But that is how a lot of news from Lorne comes — as if through a fog.”

Meyers landed “Late Night” after Fallon move up to 11:30 p.m. to host lead-in “The Tonight Show.” A year later, a similar reshuffle occurred at CBS, where Stephen Colbert took over “The Late Show” from David Letterman and James Corden became host of “The Late Late Show.” With Jimmy Kimmel in place at ABC, late-night TV remains dominated by hosts who are white and male.

Despite the recent cancellations of female-led comedy talkers such as Michelle Wolf’s “The Break” and Busy Phillips’ “Busy Tonight,” Meyers pointed to NBC’s recent move to hire YouTube star Lilly Singh as a replacement for Carson Daly at 1:30 a.m. as a sign of progress.

“One of the sad realities is there haven’t been a ton of openings in the five years since” he took over “Late Night,” Meyers said. “I was certainly really happy that NBC decided to give Carson Daly’s spot to Lilly Singh. That struck me as the right direction. And even though Busy’s show didn’t work or Michelle Wolf’s show didn’t work, it’s wonderful to be in a time where they’re getting to try their shows.” Wolf worked as a writer and on-air contributor on “Late Night” before hosting “The Break” for Netflix. Meyers noted that the show has sought to provide a similar platform to female writers such as Amber Ruffin and Jenny Hagel. “Nothing would make us happier than, when the time came for one of those slots to be filled that it was someone from our family. So I certainly am optimistic that we will see better representation moving forward.

Meyers also discussed the effect that the political candidacy, then presidency of Donald Trump has had on the show.

“He is a material monster in that he just sort of spews out things that are unconventional all day long,” Meyers said. “With that said, we thought it was going to end after the election. Spoiler alert: This is not what I thought was going to happen. We just thought it would sort of go back to normal and we’d be doing things on politics, but not presidential politics. So yeah, I think our M.O. is to follow the biggest news of the day, and unfortunately it is that more often than not.

Seth Meyers photographed exclusively for the Variety TV Take Podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety

More TV

  • How Mipcom is Adapting Through 'The

    How Mipcom is Adapting to Wider Content Offerings Through 'The Streaming Offensive'

    With the rise of streamers rapidly changing the television industry, it was inevitable that the biggest TV market would have to address the evolution. A year after exploring the so-called big shift in television, the theme of this year’s Mipcom conference is the Streaming Offensive, with sessions from speakers including Amazon Studios’ head of international [...]

  • Ronan Farrow Noah Oppenheim

    NBC News Rebukes Ronan Farrow: 'We Have No Secrets'

    The president of NBC News pushed back on some of the explosive claims made by journalist Ronan Farrow Monday, calling into question an allegation that the NBCUniversal news outlet knew about sexual misconduct by former “Today” anchor Matt Lauer before he was fired in 2017. “Farrow alleges there were employees who reported Lauer’s behavior prior [...]

  • Riviera and Das Boot Sky TV

    Inside Sky Studios' Plan to Be the 'Biggest European TV Producer'

    Comcast forked out $40 billion for Sky and is now backing its CEO Jeremy Darroch’s plan to turbo-charge its pipeline of originals. It has created Sky Studios and will double its programming outlay in a plan that insiders tell Variety will see it spend £1 billion ($1.2 billion) a year on original programming within five [...]

  • Jason Flemyng, Casting Director Lucinda Syson

    Jason Flemyng, Lucinda Syson Launch Film and TV Indie The Kernel Factory (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jason Flemyng, fellow actor Ben Starr, casting director Lucinda Syson, and finance expert Cristiano D’Urso are opening The Kernel Factory, a new U.K.-based film and TV indie. Flemyng has a long list of movie credits including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and Guy Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking [...]

  • ITV Wins Pre-Sales for Mipcom Drama

    Pre-Sales for 'Noughts and Crosses' Lead Scripted Deals for ITV Studios at Mipcom

    ITV Studios Global Entertainment has racked up pre-sales for its leading Mipcom title “Noughts and Crosses”, and has unveiled a number of other deals on its drama slate. “Noughts and Crosses” has been acquired by M-Net in Africa, Russia’s More TV, TVNZ in New Zealand and on BBC First across Benelux prior to its launch [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content