Arsenio Hall on His Return to Late Night: "Barbara Walters, Are You Hitting On Me?"
For children of the '90s, the terms Woof Woof Woof and dog pound have little to do with canines. Instead, they're likely to bring back memories of flat tops, Bill Clinton sax solos, and first gen fist pumping. Lucky for all the nostalgia junkies, Celebrity Apprentice champion and one time Coming to America drag queen Arsenio Hall is bringing the party back to late night.
Cultist caught up with Arsenio at the Shore Club, where he made an appearance ahead of NATPE's global television conference. And seriously, the dude hasn't aged one damn day. We talked to the late-night legend on what's different the second time around, his dream guest, and Bill Maher as the ultimate hard ass.
Cultist: What's different this time around?
Arsenio Hall: You know I've experienced a lot of this before. I remember the first time they offer it to you, you start walking around the lot. And they say, so this is a rectangle and this is a square, and you're looking at your set and you go, what's the difference? And you start looking at the budget and trying to decide what kind of band you're gonna have and having delusions of grandeur -- I'm gonna have, like, five horns. And when you translate that into actual money and budget, it's so cool to have the knowledge and approach it a second time. I think the other thing I like that I think is cool is the first time you appreciate it in a different way. You know, there's an appreciation that's real cool.
You stepped away for quite awhile, how did that affect you?
You know what? I love and appreciate that element of it. My thing was, I felt like something was missing from my life and I never get to get into this because a lot of people, they want the quick OMG insider soundbite, but the reality is, I didn't know if it was a child, I didn't know what it was, but I knew my life couldn't be just preparing for the next Judith Light interview.
The bottom line is, I did a lot of things, a lot of growing up, I did a lot of living. I went from show to show to preparation to show, and along with being a dad I got to try a lot of things professionally. Part of being a dad in show business, every cartoon that came my way -- I did every fucking Scooby Doo they offered me, you know, because I had a child at that point. I got to live this unselfish, fun experience, taking in every ice show and basketball game. I never saw my dad at one of my little league games, but I never miss my kid's stuff. Well, I'm gonna miss one this week!
Who's your dream guest?
Wow -- you know, the show will air start on 9/9/13, so my dream the night before that will be different than now. But right now Jay-Z and his family would be a way to start.
Any fighting words for the other late night dudes?
Wow, you know, not really. I mean, I want to thank Bill Maher and Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon. There are so many books and documentaries written about late night wars, but when I decided that I wanted to come back, I can't tell you the good will that I had. Leno put me in the monologue after I won Apprentice to do a joke about doing my new show. Fallon, I came on his show and I talked about my new show. Bill Maher, instead of being on the panel, Bill Maher said, do the top of the show because they need to see how good you still are. That's what Bill said -- Bill Maher! There's no harder human being on the planet.
All these guys were there looking out for me. Barbara Walters called me and said, what do you need from me? I was like, excuse me, are you hitting on me? She was like, whether it's my advice or whether it's sitting in with the girls when I'm not here which she eventually let me do. That kind of goodwill, that's really great
The Arsenio Hall Show debuts September 9 at 11 p.m. on CBS. Woof woof woof!
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.
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