The Slightly Earlier Show, With Craig Ferguson


Despite his claims to the contrary, since Craig Ferguson announced that he was leaving The Late Late Show, I've had the feeling that it wasn't entirely his decision. I have no doubt that the reasons he gave were true in their own way, but there was a read-between-the-lines-iness that made it seem that, without David Letterman at CBS to back him, Ferguson was being gently suggested to move on. But, he was already confirmed to be hosting Celebrity Name Game for Freemantle North America, so all assumed that his future was clear.

Just the other day, whilst brushing my teeth, I got to wondering if Geoff Peterson would be part of Celebrity Name Game. And low, the television gods did hear me, and sent forth an answer that makes me warm in my bits. Craig Ferguson, it was announced last week, will be hosting a syndicated half hour comedy/talk show for Tribune Media, which owns stations like KTLA in Los Angeles, and WPIX in New York. But more than that, it'll essentially be the Late Late Show transplanted to a more visible arena.The show will be run by current Late Late Show producer, and ever-present foil to Ferguson, Michael Naidus. Additionally, Josh Robert Thompson will follow Ferguson in the guise of Geoff, the gay robot skeleton. And Secretariat, his pantomime horse, will trot along behind for good measure. The show is expected to air at 7 o'clock, ahead of a syndicated sitcom and the affiliated network's prime-time lineup.

Ferguson, when asked if he would ever like to take over the Late Show from Letterman, often said something along the lines of no, because CBS would expect too much of him in that position. At 12:30, he was able to do whatever he wanted, with little interference from the network because, in his words, they had forgotten he was there. The counter to that was he received little support from CBS (his support came almost entirely from Letterman), and was forced to build up his own following. Which he did. I've long maintained that Ferguson is the only host worth watching in the current late night environment. But that timeslot is a killer, and I struggle to keep up-to-date, even with timeshifting.

This new program, and it's timeslot, is incredibly good news for Ferguson. Being syndicated means he won't be beholden to a network's meddling. He might have to try to scale back the "tootsie-fruitsie" and the dirty old man stuff, but that all is part of Ferguson's charm, and part of the package Tribune has bought. Being half an hour means a more honed expression of Ferguson's skills, and let's all be honest, the first half hour of the show, when Ferguson and Geoff interact with the audience and each other, is the best part of the show. Not that his interview skills aren't top grade; he's easily the best in late night, if only because he refuses to be sycophantic. Ferguson has repeatedly said that he won't do something unless he's deeply interested in it, and I see this deal as being a distillation of all the best qualities he's honed at 12:30 over the last ten years. He might finally have what he's wanted for so long, and that CBS never gave him: true trust and freedom.

 Via Deadline.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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