Late show with Lopez books Obama
NBC’s Leno show might be the heat seeking missile of this year’s upfront, but George Lopez is also hoping to offer a new take on the late night genre over on cable. Lopez is hosting a new 11 p.m. talker on TBS starting November and told B&C the show will take its inspiration from another mold-breaker, Arsenio Hall, who fronted his own syndicated show in the early nineties.”We’re filming at Warner Bros’ West Wing Studio 29,” said Lopez, “Arsenio was at Paramount in Studio 29.” He adds, “Arsenio has reached out and contacted me about how I’ve represented the legacy of his show.” Turner’s TBS showed clips of the upcoming series at its upfront presentation in Manhattan Wednesday.
Hall was known for having the audience chant, “Woof,” and for a legendary appearance by the then Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton, who played saxophone on the show. Lopez’ show aims to follow that pattern; it already has a commitment from President Obama to appear. “We’re like friends. He’s going to come on,” said Lopez, who had suggested that the President might like to do a round of golf for a segment, though the President declined. Lopez explained that pictures of the President playing golf wouldn’t have gone down well, given the country’s current problems.
Lopez also has Chris Rock’s head writer Lance Crouther helping to write the show. The comedian confirmed he will do live commercials just as his counterparts at the broadcast networks currently do. He said McDonalds and Home Depot were interested. “It’s like stand-up; you have to buy two drinks to watch the show,” he quipped.
In terms of format the show will break from the traditional talk show structure. Lopez says it may start with some music and the monologue, if there is one at all, could air at the end. Lopez will also be seen roaming the studio audience as Ellen DeGeneres sometimes does in her daytime talk show. “I don’t want to be nailed down,” he said. In an example of its fluid format, the teaser reel shown at the upfront presentation, had actor Samuel L. Jackson picking up a tambourine and spending part of the show playing in the band.
Commenting on Leno’s new 10 p.m. slot on NBC, Lopez observed the difficulty of that time period and that viewers are very attached to dramas such as CBS’ CSI and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy at that hour. “A show like that at 10 p.m. may be tough for a while.”
Lopez said he is also keen to be a voice for the underserved Hispanic audience who are often forced to choose between black or white comedy acts on TV. “It’s very pasty white,” he observed of the late night arena. During his set at the upfront Lopez joked that his show was going to be so good, “Latinos will want to pay for cable,” and that he didn’t need to call it a late show given his surname, “the late was already implied.”
The show won’t launch until November, but viewers will be teased by a series of online shorts of five to ten minutes which will debut online in September, said Lopez. The new show’s slot will be 11 p.m. on TBS, Monday through Thursday.