NBCUniversal broadcasts some of the best-known and longest-running programs in late-night TV. Now the company hopes to add two new shows to its wee-hours roster.
The company behind “The Tonight Show,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Late Night” and “A Little Late” will launch two weekly programs on its Peacock streaming-video outlet, one led by “Late Night” writer and personality Amber Ruffin and the other hosted by former “Comedy Central” host Larry Wilmore. Both are slated to launch in September, with Peacock ordering nine half-hours of Ruffin’s program and 11 episodes of Wilmore’s show, which did not have a time format attributed to it.
“The Amber Ruffin Show” is expected to feature Ruffin’s signature smart-but-silly take on the week’s news. ““We can’t wait to write sketches, songs and jokes about this terrible time we call now!” Ruffin said in a statement. The writer has lent her talents to a number of different projects in recent years, including HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show” and Comedy Central’s “Detroiters.” In 2019, she had a series in development with NBC called “Village Gazette” in which she would have played the editor of a small-town newspaper.
Wilmore’s program, which has not been given a title yet, will feature the host in discussions with people from sports, politics and entertainment and is billed as being “funny, sometimes serious, potentially awkward and most definitely honest.” Wilmore previously hosted “The Nightly Show,” a companion to Comedy Central’s long-running “Daily Show” that gained some critical acclaim but was canceled by the network in August of 2016 – just before the presidential election that year. ““Apparently there’s a lot going on in the world right now and a big election happening soon, so I’m happy to have a place in the conversation,” Wilmore said.
Several big streaming-video outlets have tried to emulate late-night TV with programs of their own, but coming up with long-lasting concepts has been challenging. Netflix tried to compete with late-night with a topical show from host Chelsea Handler, who once held similar duties for NBCU’s E!. The program lasted two seasons and moved to once a week from three. Hulu launched Sarah Silverman in “I Love You, America” in 2017, and kept it in circulation for 21 episodes.
All of TV’s late-night programs have placed more stock in the attention they get from digital audiences, often emphasizing viewership of individual sketches and segments on YouTube over the ratings they generate via traditional TV. Many hosts and producers have come to recognize that a significant chunk of their viewers come from people sampling clips distributed via social media or passed along by friends and influencers. Conan O’Brien, for example, winnowed his hour long show on TBS to thirty minutes in 2019.
Amber Ruffin, Jenny Hagel, Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker serve as executive producers of “The Amber Ruffin Show.” Hagel is a writer on “Late Night,” which is hosted by Meyers and executive produced by Shoemaker. The series is produced by Universal Televison, part of Universal Studio Group, and Sethmaker Shoemeyers Productions.
Larry Wilmore , who has an overall production deal with Universal TV, Jo Miller, Tony Hernandez, Brooke Posch, David Miner and Michael Rotenberg serve as executive producers of his new program. Miller was previously one of the founding executive producers of “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.” The series is produced by Jax Media and Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group.