Pasadena, Calif. — James Corden opened his TCA winter press tour panel for The Late Late Show by warning the audience of reporters that he and his team have only been working on the show for four days. “So if you’re asking questions, we’d love them to be suggestions, because we have almost no ideas,” he said. “We literally know nothing. It’s completely pointless we’re here.”
But over the course of the panel on Monday, Corden proved why he was chosen to take over for Craig Ferguson on the CBS late night talk show, presumably over better-known performers. Corden pinpointed a theme for his show. “In this current climate, in this time, we want to make a warm show,” he said, and it was that warmth, mixed with humor and humility, that he exuded in the room.
With a background that includes sketch comedy and musical theater, rather than the standard standup comedy, Corden was asked about the format of The Late Late Show with James Corden, which premieres March 23. “The truth is, there is no blueprint for our show,” he said. “We could prep for this show for a year; it’s only in the doing of it that will tell us what it is.”
Executive producers Rob Crabbe and Ben Winston offered a touch more clarity. Crabbe said they will respect the late night tradition but might not have a traditional monologue, adding that they want to be “guest-focused.” Winston said the show will be varied. “If there’s one thing our show can bring, it’s a real natural energy to it, where you’re not entirely sure what you’re going to watch that evening,” he said.
That nature of unpredictability is one of the things that drew Corden to late night. Asked about putting the brakes on his burgeoning film career to do The Late Late Show, the Into the Woods star said it was quite the contrary. “There’s nothing more creative, I don’t think I’ll ever do in my career, than trying to make an hour of television a day,” he said. “I couldn’t feel less like I’m putting the brakes on and more like I’m putting my foot on the gas.”
Corden is mindful of the history of late night — he complimented all the hosts one by one during the panel, heaping praise on David Letterman’s “formal informality” in particular. While he does not know exactly what his show will entail, Corden said he has learned that the show will be better the harder he works.
The great thing about the show, he said, is that “we’re going to wake up in the morning and so often say, ‘what will we do tonight?’”