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Ferguson declares war on Fallon ... with Paris Hilton?!?

by Danny Gallagher, posted Feb 25th 2009 10:02AM

The late night war is officially back on, folks, and it's about to get nasty because Paris Hilton has become CBS' weapon of choice.

Craig Ferguson and his Late Late Show crew plan to turn the tables on Jimmy Fallon's first foray into his late night territory by launching a cluster of MOABs at NBC that are packed to the brim with Paris.

And no, we don't mean Ferguson literally plans to launch Paris into the Late Night offices where she will unleash her demon whore spawn and turn Fallon's staff into a grisly smorgasbord of bloody flesh and gnarled bones. Let's be realistic. Paris would just hire someone to do that for her.

CBS has recruited Paris for an evening of promoting and slumming before she sits down with Ferguson on his show. She will also pop up throughout Monday's prime-time lineup to promote her upcoming appearance.

CBS hopes that giving their viewers a face-full of Paris will convince them not to watch Fallon and stick with America's favorite Scotsman, second if you count Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons.

And when the dust settles, it doesn't matter who will rise from the ashes because the loser in this battle will be Ferguson. I don't mean any disrespect. I enjoy his show and comedy, maybe not as much as Conan O'Brien, but he adds a very personal charm and wit to his little corner of late night television. And he did so by standing his ground.

Maybe Ferguson actually finds Paris an interesting conversation starter to some degree we haven't seen yet. But the move seems to suggest that CBS, not Ferguson, has control of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

He stopped doing monologue jokes after the first year or so. He told hilarious stories about his family and personal life. He also didn't interview people just because they were famous. He told NPR's Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me that he "instituted a policy of no one gets on the show unless I'm remotely interested in talking to them." These tweaks gave the show a meaningful touch. People weren't just coming on the show to plug their latest book or newest movie before it becomes another resident of the Wal-Mart discount bin morgue.

He and his guests were on the show to entertain and enlighten you, and not always for the sake of comedy. His show featured a whole range of emotions from funny to sad and heartfelt. It felt like that fun weekend dinner at your friend's house where everyone is telling stories and roasting each other. It's also the one weekend that you actually remember because you weren't drunk.

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Now is this really reality free? Maybe my definition of what is real is different from everyone else's. It isn't voyeuristic but it is still real.

February 26 2009 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A) I may not like Fallon as an actor or SNL fixture but everyone spelling his doom is identical to Conan's beginnings. Give the guy a chance--I am (how can you not with his killer first show guests and The Roots as the house band?)

B) Paris Hilton will never trump Robert DeNiro unless your a spoiled tween girl from the South Park episode that lampoons Paris and that set of famous for being rich set. Hate to break it to CBS but they are not watching late night talk shows. People who do will be tuning into Fallon to watch his first show and to watch how he handles interviewing DeNiro.

And it should be noted that like Conan, Fallon has famous (and funny) friends in high places that will do their best to make sure he stays afloat until he's got a groove down and becomes a competent host or until he sinks himself because he can't do it. If that happens, I hope you're all happy watching Late Night w/ Carson Daly who has the personality of a 2X4.

February 25 2009 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Justin's comment

Damn--I put 'your' instead of 'you're'--I hate my grammatical errors.

February 25 2009 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cincinnati Mike

Justin...I think the difference is that people assumed Conan would fail because nobody had ever heard of him. We assume Jimmy will fail because he's an unfunny tool. There's a lot of built in negativity this time that Conan didn't have. But, as you suggest, I am confident they are going to stick with him until it somehow works.

February 25 2009 at 6:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

David Letterman and the executives of Worldwide Pants are responsible for this, not CBS.

(1) Letterman retains 100% creative control over the shows he owns. CBS buys the shows from him as-is. While they may choose to send "notes" to the Worldwide Pants team about content, Letterman can also choose to ignore the notes. If this was a CBS idea (it wasn't; see (2)), it only came to fruition because Letterman or his staff approved it.

(2) You have to remember that Dave got himself into trouble with Paris. He had made fun of her, embarrassed her, felt he had gone over the line of human decency, invited her back on the show, and apologized to her. He has since had her on a few times (I believe) and made her a "regular" kind of guest. So it makes sense that someone at Worldwide Pants would come up with the idea of leveraging the paparazzi/popularity factor of Paris with a "shot over the bow" at Jimmy Fallon. It's just marketing.

Obviously, someone at CBS agreed and/or helped this come about since they're inserting her into non-Worldwide Pants shows/promotional slots, but don't for a second think CBS is lording over Ferguson, Letterman, or Worldwide Pants :)

February 25 2009 at 2:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to David's comment

Nice post, David!

February 25 2009 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't get it, is this a eulogy for Ferguson? It sounds like you're spelling the death knell for him because of this one thing - even referring to the show in the past tense. Seems a wee bit premature, no?

February 25 2009 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't think you guys give Ferguson enough credit. He will do something cool with it, I have that faith. I do not have the same in Jimmy Fallon, poor bastard.

February 25 2009 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All they need to do is bring Craig on Letterman's show and have people see how hilarious he is, and it'll double Late Late Show's ratings overnight.

February 25 2009 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If Furguson goes HD I might watch it... Until then, it is Jimmy Fallon only.

February 25 2009 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Mark's comment
Jeff N.

Yes, CBS needs to show some respect for Craig Ferguson and produce the Show in HD. This is 2009, all these talks show should be in HD.

February 25 2009 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah I love Ferguson, but I can't stand watching it since it's not in High Def. I'd rather watch youtube clips of the show.

February 25 2009 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is this a CBS idea, a Worldwide Pants idea, or a Late Late show idea?

February 25 2009 at 11:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"But the move seems to suggest that CBS, not Ferguson, has control of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson."

Neither have control of the Late Late Show...Letterman does.

February 25 2009 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That actually makes me want to watch Fallon.

February 25 2009 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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