The Arsenio Hall Show” has stopped production, marking an abrupt end to the host’s efforts to restart his latenight franchise in syndication.
CBS had said that the show would return for a second season, but the
latenight strip was facing significant downgrades from stations and the
Eye determined that the show would not be financially viable. The show
was in reruns this week and will not resume production. The show’s last
original seg was May 21.
CBS said in a statement: “Unfortunately, ‘The Arsenio Hall Show’ will
not return for a second season; while there are many loyal fans of the
show, the series did not grow its audience enough to continue. Arsenio
is a tremendous talent and we’d like to thank him for all the hard work
and energy he put into the show. We’d also like to thank Tribune and all
our station group partners for their support of the show.”
Hall had sought to rekindle the success he had in the late 1980s and
early ’90s with his syndie yakker. The revived show, a joint production
of CBS and Tribune, started out with promise last September
but could not maintain its early momentum and struggled with guest
bookings. Original showrunner Neal Kendall was axed after one month into
the show’s run and a permanent replacement was never set.
Hall and his manager/exec producer
John Ferriter were in the process of recruiting a new showrunner team,
new writers and making other changes for season two. But with station
groups including the powerful Sinclair Broadcast Group threatening to
downgrade the show’s time slot to well after midnight, CBS couldn’t
justify the risk in spending money on a revamp.
Hall was away from Los Angeles Friday on a planned vacation and not
available for comment. Ferriter emphasized that the host put all of his
energies into delivering the best possible show. The struggle with
bookings was perplexing to the “Arsenio Hall” team given that Hall’s
ratings were often comparable to cable latenight shows such as TBS’
“I’m really proud of our show, I’m proud of Arsenio and I’m proud
that he got back on the air to do what he does so well,” Ferriter said.
“My one regret was that we had many, many celebrities who told us they
wanted to do the show but we couldn’t get their reps to book them.”
The return of Hall was part of an unprecedented shakeup in the
latenight TV lineup during the past two years. At the time plans for
Hall’s return were first announced in June 2012, ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel
Live” was still airing at midnight and Jay Leno was still firmly in
control of “The Tonight Show.” Back in his heyday, Hall was a hip,
urban-friendly alternative to Johnny Carson; this time around, he was
one of many alternatives in latenight — though he was often competitive
in the demo with other latenight shows.
“Arsenio Hall” staffers were floored by the news of the shutdown that
was announced Friday afternoon at the show’s offices on the Sunset
Bronson studio lot that is home to Tribune’s KTLA, which carried the
show in L.A.
The news came as a shock because CBS and Tribune had previously
committed to a second year of the show. Leno even made a special visit
to the show to announce the season two pickup, his first TV appearance
after exiting “The Tonight Show” in February.