April 28, 2014 at 5:23 pm #316811
Damn you. CBS…You just let late night TV’s best host walk away:
Craig Ferguson will step down as host of CBS’ “ The Late Late Show” in
December when his contract with the network expires after nearly a
decade as David Letterman’s companion in the 12:35 a.m. slot.
Ferguson’s decision comes less than a month after Letterman announced
his intention to retire next year, and about two weeks after CBS tapped
Stephen Colbert as his successor. Ferguson’s move was not a surprise
given CBS’ decision to turn elsewhere for Letterman’s replacement. He
took the helm of “Late Late Show” on Jan. 3, 2005. He was an unusual
choice for a network latenight show — an actor, writer and one-time rock
musician with a thick Scottish brogue and genuinely zany sense of
humor. But as he found his sea legs in his first year on air, Ferguson
carved a niche for a show anchored by his nightly monologue — which
favored observational humor and anecdotes over one-liner jokes.
Ferguson’s view of America through the wide eyes of an immigrant helped
him stand out from the rest of the latenight crowd. His openness about
his life and his struggles with substance abuse, his love of his adopted
homeland and his extended family endeared him to a hard-core group of
fans. The emotional eulogy he delivered on-air in January 2006 following
the death of his father drew attention to his unique style and was a
turning point for the show. In 2004, CBS and Letterman’s Worldwide
Pants production banner, which owned “The Late Late Show,” held a
bake-off among comics and actors to fill the chair left vacant by Craig
Kilborn. Ferguson was championed over such candidates D.L. Hughley and
Michael Ian Black as as a breath of fresh air by producer Peter
Lassally, a veteran of Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” who remains exec
producer of “Late Late Show.”
CBS came on board as a co-production partner of “Late Late Show” two
years ago as relations between Ferguson and Woldwide Pants became
strained. Ferguson was never known to have had a close relationship with
Letterman, despite their mutual friend in Lassally.
Ferguson earned a Peabody Award in 2010. In addition to the nightly
program, he has continued to tour as a standup and penned books,
including memoir “American On Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an
Unlikely Patriot” and the novel “Between the Bridge and the River.” He
was nominated for an Emmy for hosting “Late Late Show” in 2006, and he
earned a Grammy nom this year for his comedy album “I’m Here to Help.”
Even before the Letterman-Colbert shuffle became official, Ferguson
telegraphed his restlessness by taking a gig as host of the syndicated
game show “Celebrity Name Game,” which bows in the fall from distrib
Debmar-Mercury. His CBS-based Green Mountain West production banner has
grown busier during the past two years, developing unscripted projects
for Discovery (“Naked After Dark”), Science Channel (“I F*cking Love
Science”) and Comedy Central (“Porn Project”).
I hope Colbert bombs. This is simply not right. Ferguson should’ve been handed the 11:35 slot, no questions asked. Enjoy unchallenged late night domination, Jimmy Kimmel for a long, long time.April 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm #316813
Boo. He was my favorite. The Larry King voiced Geoff Peterson episode should’ve won an Emmy.
Oh well. At least we can look forward to Celebrity Name Game.April 28, 2014 at 6:56 pm #316814
He’s the best late night host! UghApril 28, 2014 at 7:03 pm #316815
My vote to replace Ferguson: Amy Schumer. It’s her time, her star is on the rise, and she would be a much better choice than Chelsea Handler ever would be.April 28, 2014 at 7:27 pm #316816
A surprising turn of events. Variety secures an exit interview with Ferguson: https://variety.com/2014/tv/news/craig-ferguson-i-wanted-to-leave-the-show-before-i-stopped-enjoying-it-exclusive-1201166239/
Craig Ferguson is relieved – he’s been wanting to let people know of his
plan to move on from “The Late Late Show” for months.
The CBS late night host also is resigned to the fact that few will
believe his assertion that he began thinking about ending his run on the
show as long as two years ago, but he re-upped after CBS persuaded him
to stick around a little longer. Early this year, he began laying the
groundwork for his exit, before he had any idea that Letterman was
preparing to announce his plan to retire in 2015.
“It wasn’t contentious. I was just like, ‘I feel like I’m done,’ ”
Ferguson told Variety. “We were all fine and were tying up loose ends.
And then Dave surprised everybody with the (April 3) announcement and
that threw a spanner in the works. And I had to sit and keep my mouth
shut while speculation raged wildly.”
Ferguson initially planned to sign off this summer, but CBS asked him to
stay until December to give them more time to set a replacement.
Ferguson agreed because it gives his staff and crew more time to find
“It’s an inevitable thing when David announced his retirement, people
are going to say ‘Oh he’s leaving because of that.’ No matter what I say
or what I do, they’re gonna say that. Well they can say what they like.
It’s America. I understand.”
The simple fact is, Ferguson wanted to move on before the work became a
chore. He’s proud of the show and how oddball it is – with a robot
skeleton and stuffed horse for sidekicks. But he has “ideas” for new
things and is engaged with the various projects that his Green Mountain
West production banner is developing for Science Channel and Discovery.
And he’s got a new gig starting in the fall as host and producer of the
syndie gameshow “Celebrity Name Game.”
“Ten years is a very long time in one job – for me,” he said. “I wanted
to leave the show before I stopped enjoying it. That was my goal. I
didn’t want it to be a chore….The whole idea is that show business
should have some adventure to it, I think. It’s not about knowing what
you’re doing day in and day out, year after year.”
Another latenight talk show is highly unlikely, despite the vacancy
that’s about to open up at Comedy Central when “The Colbert Report”
wraps. “I don’t know if I would ever do a latenight talkshow (again). It
just doesn’t feel like that’s the way I’m headed,” he said. Ferguson
reiterated, as he has in interviews over the years, that taking over the
11:35 p.m. slot from Dave was never his ambition. But again, he accepts
that people will view this as a he-doth-protest-too-much situation.
“I had no desire – none – to do that job,” Ferguson said. “I could
barely keep it together at 12:30, never mind 11:30. Nobody wants to hear
it. It’s so bizarre. People want it to be Jay and Dave or Jay and Conan
or some kind of big story. That’s not me, that’s not what I want. I
think what happens is that certain people want you to want it, and they
want you to not get it. If that makes ‘em happy, well…It really wasn’t
what I aspired to. Doing this job wasn’t something I aspired to, either.
I kind of fell into this.”
But what about the reports that Ferguson’s last contract included a
clause that calls for him to see an eight-figure payout if he was not
chosen as Letterman’s successor? Ferguson paused, and then cited words
of advice from a seasoned Scottish comedian, Johnny Beattie, who
befriended him years ago. “He told me, ‘There’s two things we never
discuss: Wages and ages.’ So I think I’m gonna stick to that.”
I’m willing to take his word on this.April 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm #316817
This sucks, hopefully someone good replaces him.April 29, 2014 at 2:49 am #316818
Here’s an idea, if they don’t go the Amy Schumer replacement route, let LLS exit with Craig. Abandon 12:35AM altogether. Concede the timeslot to Seth Meyers.April 29, 2014 at 8:13 am #316819
So this is sad. Replace him with someone good CBS!April 29, 2014 at 9:58 am #316820
He sounds like a terrific guy and much beloved.
Best of luck to him in his future endeavors.April 29, 2014 at 3:02 pm #316821
But apparently this was his choice, so that lessens the blow considerably.
“Who’s that at the door?”June 3, 2014 at 1:28 am #316822
I was thinking about something a few days ago
With the recent cancellation of The Arsenio Hall Show, it got me thinking about something – Hall’s show had solid viewers, but not amazing ratings. It was in syndication, but it was a CBS production. I was thinking perhaps they cancelled his show so that he could replace Ferguson next year as the host of The Late Late Show?
I know its just a bit of speculation, and they are likely going to replace him with Joel McHale, but maybe not…August 5, 2014 at 11:45 am #316823
They’ve officially found the replacement, and its an amazing choiceAugust 5, 2014 at 11:52 am #316824
Blah. Not so amazing. I guess I’ll watch the series premiere to see if he’s any good. He can promote Into the Woods a lot for Oscar season.August 5, 2014 at 11:58 am #316825
Tony winner James Corden? How about that? Good on him.August 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm #316826
Wasn’t he supposed to do a revival of “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum” on Broadway?
This is weird. He has no trouble getting work in theater, movies (“Into the Woods”, “One Chance”) and tv (“The Wrong Mans”). It feels like he’s giving all of that up. Maybe he prefers a regular gig and exposure to an American audince, even if it is at 12:30 a.m.