Following a well-received appearance on Celebrity Apprentice and a very impressive distrubtion agreement, there was reason for plenty of Arsenio Hall optimism. The affable comedian had conquered late night television back in the day; so, there was no reason to think he wouldn’t be able to find similar success the second time around with The Arsenio Hall Show. Unfortunately, the project just never took off like anyone hoped, and it was officially cancelled today.
Unlike the majority of late night shows, The Arsenio Hall Show ran in most markets at 11 PM. Most observers thought that timeslot would give him a jump on most of his competitors who don’t start until 11:30 or 11:35. At first, the ratings were actually pretty decent too, especially in the younger demographics. CBS Television Distrubtion was actually so confident, they announced a second season renewal all the way back in February, but the individual television stations weren’t nearly as enchanted. Recently, many of the leading local stations announced they were either going to drop the show or yank it from its timeslot, which is the kiss of death for a syndicated program.
Here’s the statement Arsenio Hall gave to The Hollywood Reporter…
"When I started this adventure with CTD and Tribune, we all knew it would be a challenge -- I’m gratified for the year we’ve had and proud of the show we created. I’d like to thank everyone on my staff for rallying around me and striving to make the best show possible every night."
There are some late night hosts and comedians who are able to work during different periods of time. Their jokes and the way they view the world is eternal enough and sharp enough that they can easily transition. Think David Letterman or Johnny Carson. They may have lost a little bit as they got older, but in general, their take on the world still really worked and/ or is still working. Unfortunately for Arsenio Hall, history may remember him as a man uniquely tied to the early 1990s-- like The Dude.
The original Arsenio Hall Show premiered in 1989. It actually did quite well for most of its 5 year run. For awhile, it was even considered the coolest place on television, but it ultimately ended in 1994, partly because of horrible luck and bad business decisions. Thanks to some odd carriage agreements, The Arsenio Hall Show aired on different networks, depending on the city. When CBS hired David Letterman in ’93, many stations dropped Arsenio to carry Dave. A few months later, FOX hired Chevy Chase to host a late night show and many of its affiliates then dropped Arsenio too, which cost him a giant percentage of his audience and convinced him to bail on the show altogether.
That being said, there has to be a project out there that would work for modern-day Arsenio Hall. Maybe it would be a sitcom. Maybe it would be as part of a larger roundtable type show. Regardless, here’s to hoping he finds that comfort zone sooner rather than later.