In the 13 years after “The Tomorrow Show” left the air, Tom Snyder kept himself busy. From 1982 to 1985 he was a local TV news anchor in New York and later Los Angeles, from 1987 to 1992 he hosted a night time radio call-in show on one of the ABC radio networks and from early 1993 to late 1994 he hosted the ‘Tom Snyder’ call-in talk show on cable’s CNBC. The critical acclaim for the latter attracted CBS’ attention and Snyder was wooed back to network TV.
The format for ‘The Late Late Show’ with Tom Snyder was very similar to his CNBC program. Each night Snyder chatted with one or two in-studio guests – generally show business celebrities, politicians and other people in the news – and took calls from viewers. Although he could still ask probing questions and occasionally be a little testy, Tom had mellowed over the years the brash fellow he had been in his earlier network appearances.
Aired live from CBS/ Television City in Los Angeles, ‘The Late Late Show’ was simulcast on the CBS Radio Network and the call-in segments included both TV viewers and radio listeners. Over time, the number of CBS affiliates airing the simulcast dwindled, but there were still a few diehards carrying it until the last telecast of ‘The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder’ on March 27, 1999.
When Snyder departed, the show was renamed and overhauled to suit the personality and skills of sarcastic new host Craig Kilborn, who had previously hosted ‘The Daily Show
’ on cable’s Comedy Central. ‘The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn’ replaced the more serious discussions that had been staples during the Snyder era with casual chatter, comedy bits and occasional musical guests. Two regular features, brought over from ‘The Daily Show’, were “In the News”, a satirical parody of the headline stories of the day and “Five Questions”, to test the intelligence of one of his guests.
Kilborn left the show in August 2004 and for the next few months a number of guest hosts filled in. In January 2005 lanky actor / comedian Craig Ferguson, who had hosted for a couple of days in October and for a week in November, became the new permanent host.