Today’s announcement that CBS has chosen James Corden to replace Craig Ferguson as host of The Late Late Show has interesting timing, coming the day after the funeral for Joan Rivers, who was the permanent guest host of The Tonight Show and later host of her own late-night talk show almost 30 years ago. No woman has risen as high in the late-night realm since, and this is a roster that includes Jimmy Fallon.
When I was in high school, there were three late-night TV series (I’m ignoring the failed Pat Sajak show): Carson, Letterman, and Arsenio. Their names alone are sufficient to describe the differences in their approach, guests, and overall content. Now we have literally six straight white guys doing a variation of Letterman (and arguably not even classic Letterman, who used to interview Chris Elliott as “Marlon Brando“). I guess there’s an audience for six brands of mayonnaise.
Judge Corden on his own merits, of course, but let’s please cease the “well, he must be brilliant if CBS hired him instead of a woman or minority!” It’s a new brand of kick in the pants to praise someone sight unseen for overcoming the burden of white maleness.