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Arsenio Hall to visit 'Letterman'

Arsenio Hall attends the 2012 Compound Foundation Fostering

Arsenio Hall attends the 2012 Compound Foundation Fostering A Legacy Benefit honoring George Lucas at a private residence in East Hampton. (July 14, 2012) Credit: Rob Rich

Here's an unusual bit of showmanship among the late night shows: Arsenio Hall will visit "Late Show with David Letterman" on Sept. 6, just a couple days before his Sept. 9 return to late night after a near 20-year absence, I am told by the Hall camp.

While this may be a more than a gracious gesture by Letterman — this may also be an unprecedented one. Hall is a close pal of Jay Leno's (he even worked as a correspondent on Jay's 10 p.m. show) but he has not been a frequent visitor to "Late Show." This is believed to be the first, and if not the first, a very rare visit.

There's a bit of late night history twisted up in this meet/greet: Hall, who left his late night berth 19 years ago, was caught in the crossfire between Jay and Dave as both ascended into their new roles at "Tonight" and "Late Show" (20 years old next week). Jay's "Tonight" initially struggled, while "Late Show" was instantly on fire. Moreover, a number of CBS stations that had been airing "The Arsenio Hall Show" dropped it for Letterman," sealing "Arsenio's" doom.

And now Arsenio is back (his new late night show will air on WPIX in the New York market.) Seems like the late night lads will have plenty to talk about, including way back to the Comedy Store days. Hopefully some Richard Pryor anecdotes will result.... or Lenny "Go Crazy" Schultz... (and kudos to Letterman for giving a big generous plug to rubber-faced Lenny on the recent "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee...")     

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