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Late Late Show Head Honcho Explains Why He Initially Didn’t Think James Corden Should’ve Taken On The Gig

Mar 16, 2024

Hopefully, there are no regrets!

It's been months since James Corden appeared on his final taping of the Late Late Show, which he hosted for eight years. He took over the CBS talk show from Craig Ferguson in 2015 and throughout his run, established himself as a familiar face in the late-night TV sphere. However, when he was offered the gig, at least one person told him not to take it -- Ben Winston, who eventually became an executive producer on the program. Now, Winston is revealing why he initially had misgivings about Corden taking the job.

Ben Winston was asked about the eponymous host's tenure at The Late Late Show with James Corden during the Edinburgh TV Festival. He has a producing partnership with the former host, and apparently was a sounding board for Corden when he was first offered the CBS hosting gig in America. Winston revealed that he initially thought the show was a step down for his colleague, who was already having a successful acting career at the time. He said (via Deadline):

James came to meet me for lunch and said, ‘I’ve been offered The Late, Late Show and I’m really considering taking it,’ and I said ‘I think that’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard in my life,’ because he was doing so many different things. He was in a movie, Into the Woods, he’d just won a Tony and he had A League of Their Own. I said, ‘Why would you want to go and interview people every night?’

He turned out to be wrong, as the Cats star was a natural fit for the hosting gig. He introduced a more panel-like format to his show, which emulated British TV formats. He also used his theatrical background as a strength, introducing sketches that let his musical talents shine. Segments like "Drop the Mic" and "Crosswalk Musical" were some of his most successful sketches and felt very unique to Corden's tastes. As for how how himself was ultimately convinced of the offer, Ben Winston said:

He said we would have a blank piece of paper to make an hour of network television every night. I noticed two things: one, he was right, and two, he was saying ‘we.’ We went out to LA and the rest was history.

James Corden's decision to take the talk show gig opened up additional opportunities for him in the U.S. The Carpool Karaoke segment ended up being such a massive hit that it took on a life of its own. It was developed into its own show for Apple TV+ called Carpool Karaoke: The Series, and both Ben Winston and Corden both are producers on the production. Corden also took acting gigs in movies like The Prom and Cinderella during his tenure, proving he could still pursue his acting career outside of his hosting duties.

His departure ultimately marked the end for The Late Late Show overall, as CBS decided to cancel the talk show instead of replacing him. It was eventually announced that the game show, @midnight, would be the successor to the talk show, following The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in the network time slot. The Into the Woods star cited the desire to pursue other creative endeavors and returning to London as reasons for leaving Late Late. On that note, Ben Winston seemed to indicate that he also has a desire to work with his collaborator again in the future. We’ll have to wait and see how the actor and host evolves as a creative in the years following his talk show stint. What seems clear right now, though, is that he made the right move in choosing to take up the gig in the first place.

Fans of The Late Late Show can revisit James Corden’s run as host by streaming the program with a Paramount+ subscription. He remains, with Ben Winston, as producer on Carpool Karaoke: The Series, which you can also check out using an Apple TV+ subscription.

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