By Rachel Payne
James Corden began his tenure as the new host of CBS’ The Late Late Show on Monday, March 23rd. The little known comedian from High Wycombe was a risky choice for CBS, but he came out with a bang opening with a star-studded, pre-recorded clip showing how he came to be the new host and welcoming first guests, Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks.
The first show began on Monday, March 23rd, at the late time of 12:37am. James Corden stepped onto the new Late Late Show soundstage for a welcome speech instead of the usual late-night opening monologue. His monologue included heartwarming promises such as, “I promise we will do everything we can to put a smile on your face before, or let’s be honest, more likely whilst you fall asleep.” His speech also included many jokes concerning his unrecognizability; “I know what you’re thinking. Oh look, Andy Richter’s got his own show!”
After the monologue, Corden introduced a pre-recorded skit about how he became the new host of the show. The skit joked that the CBS executives decided to do a golden-ticket style contest ala Willy Wonka to choose the new host. The skit included many celebrities who apparently wanted to win the contest including Simon Cowell, Chris Rock, Lena Dunham, George Lopez, and Eddie Redmayne. After Corden accidentally finds the golden ticket, he travels to the CBS studios where he is met by Jay Leno who, with the help of Allison Janney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Shia Labeouf, and Meryl Streep, tries to help him become a good host. The skit was not only very funny but also showed the range of Hollywood connections Corden and his team have made in their careers and previewed what his show can do in the future, especially with celebrity cameos. Despite not being able to remember Corden’s name, Streep said in the video, “I believe in you, everyone does… you were meant to be a host.”
The true story of how Corden came to be the new host of The Late Late Show starts almost a year ago, in April 2014, when Craig Ferguson, the previous host, announced that he would be leaving the show. Corden was revealed as his replacement in September, three months before Ferguson had his last show in December. Corden, though little known is the US, has done a very good job making a name for himself in England. Corden created, co-wrote, and starred in the popular BBC comedy, Gavin and Stacey. He is also known for his guest appearance in fan-favorite Doctor Who. He is known in the US for his Tony-award winning Broadway performance in One Man, Two Guvnors, his Hulu show The Wrong Mans, and his starring role is Disney’s recent Into the Woods. Although his hiring was a risky move for CBS, his English roots make sense to replace Scottish-born Ferguson.
After the pre-recorded video, Corden introduced his guests for the night, actress Mila Kunis and actor Tom Hanks. Corden showed his sure to be signature style of interview by coming out from behind the typical talk show host’s desk and casually sitting next to his guests. He started the interview by mentioning Kunis’ new child and asking how she likes being a mother; this conversation led to her talking about the child’s father, Ashton Kutcher. Since there had been rumors going around that Kunis and Kutcher had gotten married secretly, Corden pried her until she finally (sort-of) revealed that they had gotten married. Technically she never confirmed this but her reaction was pretty transparent. In response to Corden’s “did you get married?” Her precise wording was “maybe.”
In the pinnacle moment of his first show, Corden presented the sure-to-be (and it sure was) first viral video of the new Late Late Show. Corden and Hanks, with the help of a green screen, acted out/parodied every Hanks film in under seven minutes. It covered every film from Forrest Gump to Splash to Toy Story. Corden’s Meg Ryan impersonation was especially impressive. Not only was the video entertaining but also it was the most-talked about and shared moment of the show.
Corden finished his first show with a touching and funny song thanking everyone for his wonderful opportunity. It included quips about the kind of audience the Late Late Show has such as, “to entertain those still awake at this ungodly hour, from the worker home from second shift who still has got his suit on, to the stoner who can barely lift her face from off the futon.” But he ended his ballad with a touching message to his viewers, “that’s all for our first show and I wanna give my heartfelt thanks…. I’ll be right back here tomorrow and I hope you will be too. For The Late Late Show with me and you.”
Header photo property of CBS.