By Paula Hendrickson
Jimmy Kimmel. Jimmy Fallon. James Corden. What do these three have in common, other than sharing the first name James? As of 2015, they’ll all be late-night (or late, late night, in Corden’s case) talk-show hosts.
Past Tonight Show hosts include Johnny Carson, Jack Paar and Jay Leno. Kinda makes you wonder how David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Seth Meyers ever landed late-night gigs without having a J-name?
With so many variants of James on late-night shows, it’s funny to think of how back in 2005 we thought it was odd that Craig Ferguson was replacing former The Late Late Show host Craig Kilborn.
Who, I’m sure you’re wondering, is James Corden?
Corden is the 36-year-old Brit CBS chose to succeed Ferguson as host of The Late Late Show. Several months ago, Ferguson announced his plans to leave the show in December.
As for his replacement, Corden is a writer-actor-producer probably best known in the United States for guest starring in two episodes of Doctor Who — “The Lodger” and “Closing Time” — as Craig, an ordinary bloke who winds up with The Doctor (then played by Matt Smith) as a flat mate, and in a later episode discovers his love for his child is all he needs to overpower the Cybermen’s attempt to “upgrade” him.
The Tony-winning Corden is also familiar to theater fans. He won the 2012 Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for One Man, Two Guvnors. He also played Timms in the London, Broadway and film versions of The History Boys.
Fans of British comedy may know him from the sketch comedy Horne & Corden or the popular sitcom Gavin & Stacey. As if he’s not busy enough juggling TV and theater, Corden works in feature films as well.
While this Brit may seem an unlikely choice to host a late-night talk show in the United States, just remember, the guy he’s replacing is a Scottish actor-writer-producer who was previously best known as the clueless British boss on The Drew Carey Show — despite a lengthy résumé on both sides of the pond.
It will be 2015 before Corden delivers his first monologue — assuming he’ll retain the tradition, but one thing’s already certain: No matter how good of a host Corden turns out to be, I highly doubt he’ll have a theme song even half as catchy as the current Ferguson-penned (and performed) theme song. The song’s been stuck in my head all day.
Ferguson’s not gone yet, so watch him — and his gay robot sidekick, Geoff — while you still can. The Late Late Show airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. Central on CBS.
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Sept. 10-16, 2014, issue