Arsenio Hall, the former late-night pioneer whose dormant career got a boost when he won “The Celebrity Apprentice” last season, is returning to the television time period that made him a star.
It’s been reported at various junctures over the last few months that a new Arsenio late-night show was in the works, but now there’s word that the proposed show being spearheaded by CBS’s syndication division is now a “go” (as the syndicators say).
That’s because the show, which does not yet have an official title, has been sold to local TV stations representing 85 percent of the country, according to multiple stories appearing in the TV press on Thursday (including here and here).
That 85-percent figure — representing the percentage of the U.S. “covered” by the prospective Arsenio stations — is more than enough for the syndicator to give the go-ahead to proceed with the show’s development.
According to the stories, the new Arsenio show will premiere in September 2013, airing weeknights. The show will restore Arsenio Hall, 56, to the time period in which he became a major star with “The Arsenio Hall Show” from 1989 to 1994. That show made TV history as the first late-night show to ever be considered a serious competitor to the leading late-night show at the time, “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” on NBC, and probably helped usher in Carson’s retirement and the new late-night era in which TV shows proliferated in the time period.
It wasn’t that Arsenio’s ratings ever approached Carson’s. But the success of “The Arsenio Hall Show,” which was also syndicated to local TV stations, demonstrated that various audience segments — particularly younger viewers — were under-served by late-night TV. That represented an opportunity for networks other than NBC to get into late-night, particularly CBS, which launched David Letterman’s “Late Show” in 1993.
And just because the new Arsenio show is being developed and sold by a unit of CBS, that doesn’t mean it’s headed to CBS stations. More than likely, the show is being picked up by local stations that have no presence in late-night currently.