Late Show's new host is a mystery man
IN CHOOSING James Corden to replace Craig Ferguson as the host of The Late, Late Show, CBS seems to be making a statement.
The statement: Nothing mattered more than finding a standout talent for the 12.35am show; not the fact that Corden is a virtual unknown in the United States, nor that CBS has again passed over every female comic in the business to add another man to the long roster of late-night stars (the current tally: 12 men, zero women).
CBS made the long-anticipated appointment official on Monday after concluding extended talks to secure Corden, an award-winning actor and comedian whose work is most widely known in his native Britain. Corden's prospective selection was mentioned a month ago on the Hollywood trade website The Wrap.
Most Americans have probably never seen nor heard of Corden, unless they made it to Broadway two seasons ago and caught his Tony Award-winning performance in One Man, Two Guvnors, or ran into some episodes of a BBC series he co-created called Gavin And Stacey, in which he played a supporting role.
He also starred in the cult hit Hulu series, The Wrong Mans.
But Corden, 36, is one of the most popular young comics in England, with credits in television, theatre and film.
He is in the current film Begin Again with Keira Knightley, and the upcoming movie Into The Woods with Meryl Streep.
Corden has been praised widely as a host of televised events like the Brit Awards, a British pop-music awards show. He hosts a comedy game show based on sports called A League Of Their Own. He also sings.
"We looked at many diverse candidates and he just blew us away," said Nina Tassler, president of CBS, citing Corden's range of talents in particular.
She said that, given the access granted by the Internet, CBS was able to track his career closely. She also saw him on Broadway.
"James told me he would have swum across the Atlantic and walked across the US barefoot for this opportunity," she said.
CBS has not yet decided if the show will remain in Los Angeles, Ms Tassler said.
In adding Corden, CBS is keeping a British Isles accent on the show. Ferguson, who was born in Scotland, won a Peabody Award and built a loyal following over his 10 years as host. He announced in April that he was leaving. His last show will air in December.
Corden's start date has not been determined, but will come some time early next year, said Chris Ender, a CBS spokesman.
The Briton will be introduced to American viewers while David Letterman is still the host of the network's 11.35pm show, finishing his 21-year run on the network.
CBS has hired Stephen Colbert to succeed Letterman at a date later next year, still to be determined.