LOS ANGELES — The launch of "The Arsenio Hall Show" today isn't Arsenio Hall's first foray into the talk show world. He turned the format on its ear in 1989 with a brash younger perspective on the chat world, a hipper approach to booking artists and a group of followers known as the Dog Pound.
Can I get a "roo, roo, roo?"
"Arsenio" is one of the syndicated shows purchased by local television stations to fill in the time slots between their local and network programming. Hall joins a group of new talk shows launching this fall — including those hosted by Bethenny Frankel and Queen Latifah — to go along with a host of returning talkers.
Hall's show was only sold into late-night hours, which puts him up against network and cable talk shows by Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O'Brien. Because he's going to face established competition, Hall knows the first week of guests is important. Having been on the air before isn't giving Hall an advantage in landing guests.
"I was really a big part of making Mariah's (Carey) career but when we contacted her people about being on the show, they told us that they wanted to wait and see how things go," Hall says.
Hall knows one of the big names he could try to land would be Hillary Clinton. During the 1992 Presidential campaign, President Bill Clinton made an appearance on "The Arsenio Hall Show," where he chatted and played the saxophone. Political analysts credit that appearance with helping give Clinton a much larger profile with young voters.
Hall would love to see Hillary Clinton walk out carrying a saxophone, as a way of launching her own White House campaign. That would be the boost he needs as he re-enters the talk show arena.
"What I have done in the past means nothing," Hall says. "I am starting from the bottom. Any success I have will have to be earned all over again."
And he will have to earn it differently.
When Hall started, he was the new kid on the block and young TV watchers responded. Hall's approach then was to pick up those viewers who thought Johnny Carson was too old for their TV tastes. Now, its Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon who attract young viewers.
"One of the biggest challenges for all of us, as late night hosts, is to get people to even make an appointment to watch TV and not say, 'I'll watch Fallon yodel tomorrow,' because you have that ability to Google anything and find anything that's been on," Hall says. "So the challenges are gigantic now.
"Your biggest fan doesn't watch you every night. You hope for three nights. And two nights they'll be watching other people. Sometimes you'll get one night. But you hope you do a good, funny show and you assert a unique personality that's not there so that you can just be in the game. I'm trying to be in the game. I just got to be better than one guy that's there."
It's been almost two decades since Hall was a regular part of nighttime TV, but he hasn't fallen out of the public eye. Along with film, radio and TV appearances, Hall was the 2012 winner of the NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice 5." By the time he was on the reality show, Hall had already been thinking about a new talk show for years.
Hall plans to throw a talk show party that will be more than discussions of the latest movies or TV shows. He put together a house band, The Posse, that will be led by Robin DiMaggio (drums) and include Alex Al (bass guitar), Rob "Fonksta" Bacon (lead guitar and vocals), Sean Holt (sax, keyboard and vocals) and Victoria Theodore (keyboards and vocals).
Hall's looking to them to help put the "roo, roo, roo" into his latest assault on late-night talk.
"The Arsenio Hall Show," 10 p.m. weeknights, KFRE (Channel 59.1)
Other new syndicated programs start soon
KAIL (Channel 7.1): "America Now," news magazine, 10 and 10:30 a.m. weekdays starting today; "Republic of Dole," family law comedy/drama, noon Saturdays starting Sept. 21; "Saf3," action drama, 8 p.m. Saturdays starting Sept. 21; "White Collar," crime drama, 1 and 2 p.m. Saturdays starting Sept. 28.
KFSN (Channel 30.1): No new programming.
KFRE (Channel 59.1): "Paternity Court," courtroom series, noon and 12:30 p.m. weekdays starting Sept. 23; "Bethenny," talk show, 4 p.m. weekdays starting today; "The Middle," comedy, 5 and 5:30 pm. weekdays starting Sept. 16; "King of the Hill," animated comedy, 2:30 a.m. weeknights starting Sept. 16; "The Cleveland Show," animated comedy, 3 a.m. weeknights starting Sept. 16.
KGPE (Channel 47.1): "The Queen Latifah Show," talk show, 2 p.m. weekdays starting Sept. 16.
KMPH (Channel 26.1): "Cops Reloaded," reality show, noon and 12:30 p.m. weekdays starting today ; "The Test," talk show, 2 p.m. weekdays starting today; "Steve Harvey," talk show, 3 p.m. weekdays starting Sept. 16; "Modern Family," comedy, 7 and 7:30 p.m. weekdays starting Sept. 23.
KSEE (Channel 24.1): No new programming.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.