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The Arsenio Hall Show

26 years old
United States
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Arsenio Hall

Host: Arsenio Hall

Band: Michael Wolff

Announcer: Burton Richardson

Narrator: Burton Richardson

Sandra Fullerton & Scott Schaefer

Arsenio Hall - Executive Producer

Arsenio Hall & Marla Kell Brown


January 3, 1989 – May 27, 1994

Michael Wolff – bandleader & musical director

United States


Michael Jackson  On The Arsenio Hall Show (1989) Madonna And Anthony Kiedis On The Arsenio Hall Show Arsenio Hall Entrance On The Arsenio Hall Show

Arsenio Hall had been the interim host on Fox's The Late Show during the summer of 1987 following Joan Rivers departure. Although he had started to build an audience, his 13-week contract was not renewed and he moved on to act in the theatrical film Coming To America with his buddy Eddie Murphy. By the time Fox decided they wanted him back, Arsenio had been signed by Paramount to host his own syndicated late-night talk show.

When The Arsenio Hall Show premiered early in 1989, one week before CBS' competing The Pat Sajak Show, there was much speculation about whether either show could dent the ratings of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Arsenio, whose core audience of urban blacks broadened considerably with this series, prospered, while Pat Sajak floundered for fifteen months and went off the air.

Although the basic format was standard talk show - opening monologue, chat with celebrity guests, musical or comedy act performances - The Arsenio Hall Show quickly set itself apart from the competition. Mr. Hall's hip monologues, contemporary attitudes, choice of musical guests, and generally party-like atmosphere drew a sizable and loyal audience of younger viewers. Unlike his competition, he showcased black celebrity guests and rock, soul, and rap musicians. Even the house band (which Arsenio referred to as his "posse"), led by Michael Wolff, had a distinctly upbeat rock 'n' roll look and sound.

By the time Jay Leno replaced the retiring Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show the ratings for Arsenio Hall were already starting to slide. Arsenio's well publicized feud with Leno over celebrity bookings and his threat to "kick Jay's ass" in the ratings provided more bad publicity than good. When David Letterman's new show on CBS started off by consistently winning the ratings war, many CBS affiliates that had previously been carrying Arsenio's show either canceled it or moved it to the wee small hours of the morning. In the spring of 1994 Arsenio announced that his show would air its last original episode in May. Among his guests during his last months were controversial black figures including Spike Lee, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Reruns of The Arsenio Hall Show continued to air until September.

In February 1994, Hall booked controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to be on the show. Despite a press release saying that Hall would have other guests appearing the night of Farrakhan's appearance, Hall instead allowed Farrakhan the entire sixty minutes for himself to be interviewed. The backlash from the appearance and subsequent ratings dip was enough for Paramount to finally cancel Arsenio after five years.

Arsenio Hall: Things that make you go hmmm....

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