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Arsenio Hall to return to late night

Arsenio Hall attends the “Celebrity Apprentice” live finale

Arsenio Hall attends the “Celebrity Apprentice” live finale at American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Donald Trump “hired” the former talk show host as his “Celebrity Apprentice” Sunday night. (May 20, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Arsenio Hall, who seemed to redefine the late night landscape of the late '80s before a precipitous rupture with his syndicator Paramount ended the party, is returning to the game, this time in tandem with Tribune and CBS.  His new late night show will launch in the fall of 2013 on Tribune stations, including WPIX/11 here, the partners announced.

“We’re excited to welcome Arsenio back to the family and partnering on his new, late-night syndicated talk show,” CBS TV Distribution president John Nogawski said in a statement. “Years ago, he transcended time periods and attracted a crossover audience while bringing a fresh perspective to late night. That same need in the market exists today as when we originally launched. We are looking forward to the same success with Arsenio’s seasoned expertise and appeal in this genre.”   

Hall told the LA Times this a bit earlier Monday: “In the end I’m a comic, and nothing fits the talk-show mode like a stand-up comic, I know there are a lot of shows, but I think there’s a space for my show.”

Hall's old a-party-every-night talker was quite the shooting star — a potent combination of music and Hall's easy charm, along with a few catchphrases (woof, woof, woof, etc.) like “welcome to the dog pound” which caught even Johnny Carson's attention. In Carson's final years, Hall was considered hip, Johnny not so much, and a wave of almost breathless press (including a Time Magazine cover) indicated that his was indeed the face of the future as opposed to those middle-aged white guys who had ruled the roost for so very long. 

But there were reports of tension — and quite a bit of it — with Paramount at the time, including (if memory serves) an hourlong interview with Louis Farrakhan that attracted quite a bit of flak. (Memory does serve — check this out.)  Ratings had been ebbing, and costs — doubtless — escalating, which is usually a prescription for cancellation. Even so, Hall made his mark on TV history, and now he's returning to make another, he hopes. 

Good for him; looking forward to see if he's still got his fastball, or at least curve, or at least something — talk show muscles do indeed atrophy if you don't use 'em (but hey, he did win “Celebrity Apprentice." )

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