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Former Late-Night Host Arsenio Hall is Back

Truth be told, Arsenio Hall made some epic changes to the late-night talk show format by appealing to minority groups and a younger audience, which up to that point had been altogether ignored by other hosts.  Airing from 1989-1994 with a total of 1,248 episodes, “The Arsenio Hall Show” was an informal program. It did away with the host sitting behind a desk in favor of a sitting area for guests to be interviewed.  No sidekick was on the show, but Arsenio did have a rapport with his band (The Michael Wolff Band,) and audience who were designated as the “dog pound.” They would sit and cheer Hall with barks (“Woof,” “Woof,” “Woof!”) while moving their right fists in circles above their heads.  Now, CBS Television Distribution has green-lit Arsenio’s triumphant return to the late-night lineup.

CBS will partner with Tribune Broadcasting, which will launch the show on Tribune stations in the fall of 2013.  An announcement was made by the partners.

“We’re excited to welcome Arsenio back to the family and partnering on his new, late-night syndicated talk show,” CBS TV Distribution president John Nogawski said in a statement. “Years ago, he transcended time periods and attracted a crossover audience while bringing a fresh perspective to late night. That same need in the market exists today as when we originally launched. We are looking forward to the same success with Arsenio’s seasoned expertise and appeal in this genre.”

Hall told the LA Times this a bit earlier Monday: “In the end I’m a comic, and nothing fits the talk-show mode like a stand-up comic, I know there are a lot of shows, but I think there’s a space for my show.”

Hall’s show was popular, but it did not air without some controversy.  Paramount was angry with Hall for having the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on the show.  Also, Hall was relatively new as a talk show host and was criticized by the press for not being aggressive enough with his interviews, or listening to the answers from his guests. Eventually ratings ebbed, and costs — doubtless — escalated, which led to the show’s cancellation.

Even so, Hall made his mark on TV history, and now he’s returning to make another, he hopes.

Sources: Entertainment Weekly, Newsday, museum.tv