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CBS set plans in motion today to continue the tradition of having a late late night series that is white, male and heavily accented. On Monday, the network announced that British comedian James Corden has been tapped to take over the Late Late Show when veteran host Craig Ferguson leaves at the end of the year. If it took you forever to adjust to Ferguson’s Scottish accent, this may be bad news, as you will soon have an English accent to contend with.
We don’t know much about what Corden’s tenure as the Late Late Show host will look like. CBS did mention that the “multi-faceted performer, host, writer and producer” will be taking over in 2015 and that The Late Late Show with James Corden will be produced by the network. We also know that Corden is one of the names that has been tossed around as a potential host for quite some time. Over a month ago, Corden’s name was listed as one of the possibilities for the CBS series, yet his hiring is still a bit of an odd choice.
While Corden is a Tony and Bafta winner, with writing skills to boot, it would be difficult to find a handful of Americans who know who funnyman is. Honestly, I bet if you threw Corden on the street with Billy Eichner for a Billy on the Street sketch, no one would have any idea who he was. His acting credits include the Orlando Bloom Three Musketeers reboot, How To Lose Friends and Alienate People, and the underseen indie flick Begin Again. He’s also starred in a bunch of British TV shows, but Americans have probably only caught his recurring stint on Doctor Who in the States. He’s basically an unknown and untested entity, here. However, at 36, he does fit the younger profile the networks seem to be skewing toward with their late night hosts.
This isn’t the first time a network has chosen an unknown over a more well-known name. Conan O’Brien was a writer on Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons before he took over as the host of Late Night in the early nineties. Ferguson himself was also a British star before taking over The Late Late Show in 2004. At the time, he was probably best known for a recurring gig on The Drew Carey Show in the States. Corden will probably be able to eke it out like the best of those guys, but he does have an uphill battle ahead of him.
In the meantime, if you are a fan of Craig Ferguson’s silly shenanigans, you can catch The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS until it finishes its run at the end of the year. After stepping down, Ferguson has plans in the works to sign on with Tribune Media and get a new half-hour show on the air in a syndicated format. It definitely sucks that Ferguson felt forced to step down after the coveted earlier late night timeslot was handed to Stephen Colbert, but hopefully this will prove to be a new challenge for the veteran host as well as a new opportunity for Corden.