George Lopez tries hand at becoming the new Arsenio, announces new late-night talk show on TBS
A longtime titan of late-night talk TV is winding down his tenure, inspiring renewed competition as newer hosts jockey for a better opportunity. But all the names in contention seem the same, creating an opportunity for an upstart outside the established system to bring a new flavor reaching a different audience.
That's what late-night television looked like back in 1989, when Arsenio Hall debuted a vibrant new talk show featuring musical acts and guests who couldn't get arrested on the big network TV programs.
And that's what late-night television looks like today, with six talk shows hosted by clean-cut white guys.
So it's no wonder George Lopez is stepping up in November to try breaking through with a show of his own -- broadcast on cable channel TBS and executive-produced by the guy who developed TMZ and talk shows for Ellen DeGeneres and Bonnie Hunt.
The big change touted in TBS's press release is an outdoor party atmosphere for the show -- I guess they'll build a huge patio or something. But the real change is that Lopez is unrelentingly, unapologetically Latino -- peppering his stand-up routines with so much Spanglish it's sometimes hard to follow his jokes.
So the question arises: What kind of show will Lopez create? Will it reflect Latino culture as strongly as his stand-up gigs? Will mainstream audiences respond? Will he finally give Sheila E. (right) the late-night bandleader gig she has deserved for decades? (Please, please, please?)
Lopez's pluses: He's got a sharp wit, lots of showbiz experience (including a long-running sitcom on ABC that was a rare success for a Hispanic-led show) and a hunger to break down some of the walls that have kept Hollywood so homogenous for so long.
He'll have a chance to learn from everyone's mistakes, coming to air after all the network TV shuffling is done -- Jay Leno's 10 p.m. experiment will be working or not on NBC, Conan O'Brien will have been in the Tonight Show seat for months and Jimmy Fallon will be looking like an old man of late-night.
But, like most good comics, Lopez can be a little focused on his own thing. If Johnny Carson and David Letterman have proven anything, it's that the best hosts know how to let their guests do the heavy lifting -- a skill Lopez will have to master, along with leashing his considerable onstage energy, if he's going to revolutionize late-night talk.
Click below to read the TBS press release:
The late-night landscape is about to shift when comedian and actor George Lopez headlines a new talk show for TBS. The program – from 2.2 Productions, paraMedia Inc. and Telepictures Productions, in association with Warner Horizon Television – will bring the excitement back to late night with an outdoor street-party atmosphere and a high-energy crowd.
The fun will include visits from celebrity guests, live music and comedy acts and the benefit of George’s own flair and personality. Lopez and Jim Paratore (The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Bonnie Hunt Show) serve as the executive producers for the not-yet-titled series, which will air on TBS Mondays through Thursdays at 11 p.m. (ET/PT), beginning in November 2009.
While high-energy, Lopez’s new series will feature a casual environment that invites guests to engage fully with the crowd, giving audience members the chance to interact with the guests, ask questions and walk away feeling as though they’ve experienced something new.
“George Lopez is a special talent, with an everyman appeal that makes him uniquely positioned to be the next great late-night host,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). “George and TBS are going to change the late-night television landscape and bring a brand-new energy to the talk-show genre by giving it a street-party atmosphere. We’re excited to see this show come to life.”
“If change can come to the White House, then change can come to late night,” said Lopez. “Yes I can!”
“George Lopez is one of the most talented, popular and successful comedic performers today, and we are thrilled to partner with him and with TBS on a nightly talk-variety show,” said Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures Productions. “He has an extraordinary ability to authentically connect with a diverse audience and will bring a really different point of view that will be a game-changer in late night.”
Executive producer Jim Paratore said, “George will bring a fresh voice to late-night talk. He’s done it all, from standup to television to movies. He’s a proven writer, producer and performer with the kind of broad appeal that will have real impact and speak to an audience largely underserved in late night.”