Remember Craig Kilborn?
You don't? Understandable. (So much pop culture. How can we remember it all?) Let's play a little game. I'll throw out a series of words, and rorschach-like, a picture will emerge. Ready? Let's go!
You got it! Craigers. Our old friend. He is back. Tonight.
Check out the show on Ch. 5 at 7.
Meanwhile, two things.
First, the Fox description.
Second, my story from 2004 explaining why he left "Late Late Show."
“The Kilborn File,” a new half-hour program featuring
comedian and talk show host Craig Kilborn, debuts
tonight for a special six-week summer run on select
Fox Television Stations.
The program, which marks a return to television for
Kilborn after a six-year hiatus, will feature the
host’s humorous and opinionated take on pop culture
and current events. Celebrities and human interest
guests will join him for signature segments, such as
the rapid-fire “5 Questions” and a rotating “Power
Panel” that will weigh-in on the day’s big issues, as
well as a cavalcade of all-new Kilborn-branded comedy
that will debut throughout the series.
And now, my "Off Camera" from 2004, when he split late night...
BYLINE: Verne Gay
SECTION: PART II; Pg. B05
LENGTH: 907 words
Assuming everything goes as planned - a tricky
assumption, by the way - fans of Craig Kilborn need
wait only until early next year to see their favorite
ex-late- night talk-show star in action once again.
Kilborn, who abruptly quit his CBS show Thursday, has
a cam- eo playing himself in "Cursed,"a movie about
werewolves run amok in L.A. But it's no ordinary
werewolf-run-amok-in-L.A. flick; this one's a creation
of Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson, the guys behind
the "Scream" trilogy. As such, "Cursed" could be
(ahem) a monster hit. Or, then again, it may simply be
The film was almost completely re-shot earlier this
year, its release has been postponed a few times and
the much-anticipated Williams-Craven reunion is now
trying to shag rumors that it's become the
"Waterworld" of the horror genre.
All of which is a roundabout way of getting to the
question that everyone in late-night TV circles is
asking: So this is the reason Kilborn is walking away
from one of the most lucrative, secure gigs in all of
To hear "Craigers" (as Kilborn refers to the object of
his affections), this would appear to be at least one
of them. In a carefully stage-managed leak to Variety
last week, Kilborn explained that he wanted to write
and produce his own TV shows. He's also had a long-
standing interest in jump-starting a big-screen
career, and had a cameo in last year's "Old School"
that - by his own admission - got him more attention
than his talk show.
But it's a measure of the neurosis, obsessiveness and
general all-around nuttiness that is late- night TV
that no one really, truly believes him. Quitting a
show that's paying him about $2 million a year in the
post-"Late Show With David Letterman" time slot on the
highest-rated network in the land? Come on, Craigers:
Who's kidding whom! The real reason, please ... ?
A handful of people close to the show said last week
that the answer is somewhat muddled, and as everyone
knows, muddled answers spawn speculation. Suddenly,
there's a bumper crop of that in late-night TV.
At least one part of the story, though, appears
irrefutable. Worldwide Pants, Letterman's company,
which produces "Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn,"
had fully expected to re-sign Kilborn to a new
contract, even though both remained far apart on
money. Kilborn had sought a big raise (though it's
unclear how big) and CBS, which pays the bills,
balked. That's led to further speculation that the
network was happy to cut him loose, and a couple of TV
insiderssay that's true, too.
From this point on, the speculation mill becomes
increasingly unreliable. There was instant chatter
that CBS wanted Kilborn out of the picture so that it
could make a play for Conan O'Brien, whose NBC
contract lapses late next year. But other TV sources
vigorously dispute that, saying O'Brien didn't even
remotely play a part in last week's mini- drama.
Moreover, O'Brien has clearly stated an interest in an
11:30 p.m. show, which is why some industry observers
have long figured ABC will launch a vigorous Conan
campaign next year. The O'Brien-to-CBS chatter is
combustible because it's predicated on an assumption
that Letterman would leave sooner than later - chatter
that CBS and Pants call baseless.
It also would appear reasonable that Kilborn sought a
succession clause from both Worldwide Pants and CBS,
meaning that if Letterman were to retire, he would
become the 11:30 host of "Late Show." While industry
sources confirm that Kilborn would never have received
such an assurance, it was a moot point, anyway,
because "there was never any discussion of a
'succession clause' in Craig's deal," said Rob
Burnett, president of Worldwide Pants. "There were no
conversations about the 11:30 time slot because CBS is
thrilled that they already have a host at 11:30 who's
not going anywhere."
So why leave? By all accounts, the usual suspects were
to blame - ego and money. After five years at "Late
Late Show," Kilborn had built a reasonably large
following at 12:35 a.m., 1.7 million to 1.8 million
viewers (against 2.6 million for O'Brien), and figured
he deserved a salary boost and a cash infusion to his
show. Indeed, a larger production budget conceivably
could have taken pressure off him, too, and anyone
who's ever undertaken a late- night TV show doesn't
need to be reminded that the job is grueling and
unrelenting. But CBS was not in an accommodating mood.
Kilborn also knew he would never replace his idol,
David Letterman, and figured this was a good time to
take stock of his future. (Kilborn declined to
For both the soon-to-be- former host and CBS, now
comes the hard part. This week, Worldwide Pants will
assemble a list of prospective replacements that it
will match with CBS' list. The likelihood of mounting
a new show by mid-September, however, is considered
almost nil. That means CBS will air repeats or even
employ a series of rotating hosts in the 12:35 a.m.
time slot. Neither scenario is considered palatable,
but the network may have no choice.
Meanwhile, Craigers is about to get a bracing dose of
TV reality, too. While he once wrote his own patter as
a "SportsCenter" anchor on ESPN and contributed the
occasional joke on "The Daily Show" (from whence he
came in 1999) and "Late Late Show," he's a production
greenhorn, and TV has seldom embraced this breed.
Ah, well. There's always "Cursed.