Tuesday, January 1, 2013

10 Potential Late Night Talk Show Hosts

With Letterman, Leno and their contracts getting up in years, talk of Fallon and Ferguson moving earlier, Kimmel already moving earlier, cable fully entered into the late night game, and syndicated late night shows returning with Arsenio we are looking at a potential late night shake up within the next few years.  There is a great Splitsider article on potential replacements if Fallon moves to the Tonight Show, here is my list of ten more who should be considered.

Late night TV is much less of an establishment than it used to be, to be honest I rarely watch it (and I watch Craig if I watch anything).  Late night serves a whole different purpose than it used to, now more than anything it is responsible for creating viral videos (which is why Fallon is so successful).  You don't just need a stand-up or likable personality anymore, it is required to have a background in multiple practices and be a threat in various skills.  Also name recognition is going to be big as the networks should look for hosts who can bring in an audience as the shows have waning audiences the way it is right now.

Here are ten that entertainers that I would consider to host late night:

10. Seth MacFarlane
He works so well on paper for the job, but there is no way he would give up the success of his Fox cartoons and feature films which both pay substantially more than late night would be able to.  No matter how prolific MacFarlane is he would have to cut back on many projects in order to move to late night.  But let's just look at his career in addition to Family GuyAmerican DadCleveland Show, and now Ted which all have large followings: he is a regular fixture of Comedy Central Roasts, was one of the best SNL hosts in recent years, put on Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show, and will be hosting the Oscars.  He is certainly one of the best candidates to host late night, however it is extremely unlikely that he would be able to.

He is also the only one to make my list for both potential late night hosts and potential Star Wars directors.

9. Sarah Silverman
She is very well established with a large following and is even familiar to those who don't follow stand-up.  Her material is able to work in the mainstream without her unique, individual voice getting lost.  She has experience working in television with the successful Sarah Silverman Program and late night  TV could use some of that absurdity.  Can't see Leno or Letterman's older audiences following her, she may do better on cable than on network TV.  If she did end up hosting late night expect to see a lot of articles about her competing with ex-boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel, but she is one of the best in the business and would be able to stand on her own.  I am ranking her so low because I would doubt she would do it at this point in her career and doubt one of the main networks would court her.  However she would have a very different type of late night show that would bring in a younger audience.

8. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele
The popular Comedy Central show Key & Peele could easily be reformatted into a late night show.  The likable and talented duo could continue their cold open conversations and hilarious sketches, which work well as viral videos.  There is no need for them to move from their sketch show, but if a network wanted to try a different format for a late night show these two would be worth considering.  Especially since there is no late night show with two hosts, it would definitely stand out.

7. Justin Timberlake
He is not working in music much anymore and his film career does not seem to be taking off (I mean did you go to see Friends with BenefitsIn Time, or Trouble with the Curve?).  But out of all of these choices he would have the largest audience.  As one of the most revered recent hosts of SNL pairing him up with Jimmy Fallon on a lineup would make a lot of sense.  Although JT is talented and likable, hosting a nightly talk show is a big step and he may need a cohost to pull it off (a friend suggested him and Jimmy cohosting the same show, which is a good idea).  Also his put-price may be higher than late night can presently foot.  But it would be a better career move for him than movies right now and whichever network took a chance on him would experience a definite ratings increase.

6. Joel McHale
One of two Community cast members I would conside (don't worry Chevy did not make the short list).  Joel seems like a natural choice due to his years of experience as the popular host of The Soup.  His persona is very well crafted as a perfect balance of douchebag and likability, he is definitely a modern  personality.  However looking at Community's consistently unfortunate ratings I am sure that networks would be wary of him on late night.  But talent and experience wise he certainly fits the bill.

5. Donald Glover
He is not even thirty yet and it seems like Donald Glover has done everything but host a late night show.  He stars on the critically acclaimed Community, was a member of Derrick Comedy, wrote for 30 Rock, is a successful stand-up and rapper.  To get him to host a variety show is to get his wide skill set.  He is developing a sitcom for NBC that he would produce and star in (can't expect Community to go on much longer), which if it took off would certainly keep him from being able to commit to late night.  However I think that his talents are much more suited for late night as he is more of a personality and jack of all trades than an actor.

4. Aziz Ansari
As much as I love Parks and Recreation it can't have too many seasons left in it.  And even though Parks and Rec is usually on shaky grounds with ratings, it has been resilient and Tom Haveford is a breakout character.  Aziz is recognizable and likable and is experienced as a stand-up comedian.  He has the personality for late night and certainly has the energy to keep people awake.  Hosting seems like a better fit than him moving to another sitcom or bad movie. 

3. Riki Lindhome
I am a huge fan of the comedy music duo Garfunkel & Oates.  And although I am in love with her partner, Kate Miccucci, Riki would lend herself better to late night (with Kate often guesting, of course).  Riki is a talented writer and musician, but is also very personable and does well in interviews. She also has podcast experience, podcasts very much being the modern day replacement for late night TV.  I would expect her to do well with younger audiences without turning away older ones.  She is smart, relatable and versatile.  Although the least known personality on this list she would be a chance worth taking.  Also if she did move to late night she would be the only host to ever act in an Academy Award winning movie.

2. Neil Patrick Harris
Ted has to meet the mother sometime in the next few years.  Once How I Met Your Mother ends he popular entertainer will have an opening in his schedule.  NPH seems to be popular with several demographics, not only young and old but also liberal and conservative (not to mention hipster and mainstream).  Neil is one of the few popular modern song and dance men.  He is a honed live performer, does great in interviews, has filled in for Regis several times and hosted both the Tonys and the Emmys (and even opened the Oscars).  Neil would bring a level of prestige to late night but he is also very accessible and works well on network TV.  Neil Patrick Harris is definitely one that should be considered, and if CBS is smart they will look into it.

1. Tina Fey
30 Rock is on its last season and it has not been announced what her next project is.  It is doubtful that she would move to focusing solely on film (unless she has been writing something).  Tina is one of those few active entertainers that I would label as a full personality.  She can write books, sketches, sitcoms, movies.  She can act, improvise and produce.  She used to be the head writer of SNL, she was the creator and guiding force of one of the most important sitcoms of the past decade and she is about to host the Golden Globes.  Hosting late night TV is one of the few things I can see Tina doing from here (unless Lorne retires and needs a replacement), but it does not seem like she is being considered.  It makes a lot of sense though especially considering her relationship with NBC and Jimmy Fallon.  Her and Fallon compliment each other well, having the two on NBC's late night lineup would be one of the smartest moves the network could make.

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