On March 22, 2017, The Late, Late Show with James Corden took over the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood for the first ever late night talk show panel at PaleyFest. Moderated by The West Wing and Transparent star Bradley Whitford, the panel included Host and executive producer James Corden, executive producer Ben Winston and executive producer Rob Crabbe.
Filled with enough Carpool Karaoke clips and laughs to last a lifetime, An Evening of Laughs with James Corden and The Late, Late Show at PaleyFest 2017 gave us some incredible moments and inside scoop on the talk show that is revolutionizing late night TV.
Here are five things we learned from Corden, Winston and Crabbe at The Late, Late Show PaleyFest panel!
1. Joining The Late Night TV Game Was Challenging
James Corden never expected to be a late night TV show host. When asked how the gig came about, Corden reflects that is was a bunch of happy circumstances. He says, “It never crossed my mind in any way to do it. We just sort of came at it, expecting it to fail.” Someone at CBS went and saw Corden when he was on Broadway in One Man, Two Guvnors, they said they had to find something for Corden.
Winston and Corden were working together on a sitcom in the U.K. when Corden brought up the idea about hosting a late night show in America. Skeptical at first, Winston got on board once Corden explained everything he wanted to accomplish with the show. Corden says, “”All that really turns me on, is being creative in some capacity, seven days a week.”
Once Winston and Corden were on board, they knew they had to find someone familiar with American late night TV. That’s how Rob Crabbe got on board. Crabbe reflects on joining the team saying, “When I initially got the call about it, I did what anybody in America did, I googled ‘James Corden.'” Crabbe says having Corden, who is a very skilled performer, helped get The Late, Late Show off the ground.
Before the show began, Corden, Winston and Crabbe drove to various publicists in Hollywood to try to get anyone on the show. While Corden was very well-known in the U.K., he was virtually unknown in America. Once the show did start, the kinds of things they were doing on the show were shaking up the very fabric of late night TV. Corden remembers when they suggested that all the guests come out at once and sit together, people were confused and concerned. He thanks The Graham Norton Show in the U.K. for helping get his format off the ground.
2. They Don’t Focus on TV Ratings
When asked about TV ratings, Corden, Winston and Crabbe wholeheartedly agree that they don’t worry about them. Due to the fact that the show is on at 12:35am, they look at the ratings differently than other late night TV shows. Winston says that no one is awake at that time, unless they’re a dedicated James Corden fan. They know that no one is turning the channels at that time, so they don’t look at TV ratings. Corden even says that recently, someone at CBS came into their office and congratulated them on their rise in the ratings, but they had no idea.
While they don’t look at TV ratings, Winston says they look heavily at their views on YouTube and the Internet success of the show. Corden says, “The greatest thing about the Internet, is that it’s a level playing field.” The Late, Late Show has made quite a splash with their viral videos since debuting. The show has become an Internet phenomenon, raking in more than 2.5 billion hits on YouTube and 10 million subscribers to its digital channel. The shows segments including Carpool Karaoke, Drop the Mic, Roll Call and Spill Your Guts have helped the show live outside its CBS time slot.
3. Where Carpool Karaoke Came From
Of course, this PaleyFest panel couldn’t conclude without Corden, Winston and Crabbe discussing the phenomenon Carpool Karaoke. Corden says the idea for the sketch came from a Red Nose Day sketch he did in the U.K. He drove around in the car with various British celebrities, but what people responded to was him singing with some of them. Corden says, “Us three had never been more sure of an idea.”
4. No One Wanted To Participate in Carpool Karaoke At First
While Carpool Karaoke is an amazing Internet phenomenon, that has even spawned a spin-off series on Apple Music. Corden and Winston reflect on how difficult it was to get Carpool Karaoke off the floor. At first, no artist wanted to do it. Corden thanks Mariah Carey for being the first person to agree to hop in the car with him. While Corden loves everyone that’s participated in Carpool Karaoke, he says One Direction, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Adele are among his favorites. One Carpool Karaoke that holds a special place in his heart is Bruno Mars. Even before The Late, Late Show started, Corden wanted to do Carpool Karaoke with Mars.
When Whitford asked if Corden knows all the music before he gets in the car, he admits he practices and studies before it. Winston hilariously reflects on seeing Corden practicing once. Driving behind him to work, Winston could see Corden going all out in the car preparing.
5. Corden Has the Perfect Game to Play with Donald Trump
During the audience Q&A portion of the panel, one fan asked if Corden and the gang would ever have Donald Trump on the show. Corden has actually thought a lot about what he would do if Trump did show up on the couch. While Trump didn’t swing by The Late, Late Show during election season, Corden came up with a pretty great game for him.
“Obviously, we talked about it when he was running. When he was running for President, he didn’t stop by our show, but I felt like we had the absolute game to play with Donald Trump,” Corden said. “I really felt like the game I wanted to play if he came on the show was called ‘Stand By, or Take It Back’… [I would read him things] that he had said on the campaign trail, and you’d go, ‘Do you stand by it or take it back?’ I thought that was such a good game, but he never came by.”
Corden also spoke about the criticism Jimmy Fallon received when Trump stopped by The Tonight Show. Corden says, “The thing is, there was the thing that happened with Jimmy Fallon, where he got quite a lot of criticism, and I thought that that was really unfair.” In general, Corden thinks that no one asked Trump the correct questions during election season. He says, “I don’t think anybody took him to task or asked him the questions that needed to be done.”
In terms of discussing politics more broadly on The Late, Late Show, Corden says it’s hard to avoid discussing the subject, but he never wants to show to become solely about politics. Corden says, “I always get quite annoyed … because I don’t think we’re a political show.”
He pressed on saying, “We’re definitely not, not a political show, but I’m pretty sure we’re the only late-night show to talk about the Syrian refugee crisis on our show. We talk about Donald Trump almost every night on our show, and I think anyone watching our show would know where we stand, but we all come from a place where we don’t feel like we do these shows every day for them to be the same every day. We think that our show takes swings, and when we take them, you will absolutely know where we stand.”
The Late, Late Show with James Corden airs weekly at 12:35/11:35c on CBS