Arsenio Hall is coming home - to television, and to KSTU.
Hall, currently one of the hottest young comics in the country, is returning to the late-night TV talk show format that gave his career such a boost when he took over Fox's late, unlamented "Late Show" right after the Joan Rivers debacle. And when The Arsenio Hall Show premieres next Tuesday, it will be seen locally at 11 p.m. Mondays-Fridays on KSTU - Utah's Fox affiliate, the same station that carried his all-too-brief "Late Show" stint.KSTU officials are pleased to have Hall back on Ch. 13 despite the dismal ratings performance of the Fox talk shows they've tried. And Hall is excited to be back on television, even though the good reviews he received for his work in Eddie Murphy's recent "Coming to America" movie indicate he has a solid future in feature films.
"Most of my friends and colleagues tell me to do film," Hall said during a recent interview, "but I prefer television.
"Film and television both have their advantages," he continued. "Film gives you a certain kind of creativity, but you have to wait a year to see whether people enjoy it. Television is more timely. For instance, when Dan Quayle was accepted as the vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party, I almost cried, not being able to do a monologue about it."
Folks who knew Hall as a youngster growing up in Cleveland will probably understand that. His mother remembers him telling her at age 12 that "I want to do what Johnny Carson does." So it's hardly coincidental that Hall made the decision to return to the late-night talk show wars while promoting "Coming to America" on Carson's "Tonight Show."
"During the commercial breaks we began talking about my work on `The Late Show' and hosting talk shows in general," Hall recalled. "It was like discussing a mutual girlfriend we had both dated. I started missing `her' and I had to have `her' back.
"When the show was over, Johnny went home and I went to call my manager."
Hall says "The Arsenio Hall Show" will have "a different feel and approach than what most viewers are accustomed to." What that means, he adds, is "a more diverse group of guests," "a feeling of spontaneity and unpredictability" and "no desk."
"I think body language is very important in communicating," he said, "and a desk just gets in the way."
Hall, who will also serve as executive producer for his show, denies that he will be competing with Carson for the late-night audience. "Carson's a legend and I admire him," he said. "But I know there are a lot of people who don't watch his show, so maybe I can offer them an alternative.
"I'd like people to look at me and say the things I say when I watch (David) Letterman," Hall said. "And I'm going to keep working until I do it right."
- NBC LEARNED a couple of important lessons from its 1988 Summer Olympics venture. First, it learned that the prestige of being The Network of the Olympics isn't worth a thing if you can't turn it into enough cold, hard cash to cover the coverage costs. And second, it learned that you can't do that by covering the Games the same way networks have been doing it since ABC invented the genre almost 30 years ago.
Which is why NBC will usher in a new age of Olympic television coverage in 1992 with a multi-channel pay-per-view service that will be available to most cable television subscribers. That means that at any given time, cable viewers will have access to three or four different events - generally the less glamorous events that the network doesn't have time for - and will be able to watch them by paying an extra fee to the cable company for each session watched.
The cable package will help NBC cover the $401 million contract it has signed for rights fees for the Barcelona Games. And it will push the total number of hours available to American viewers up from the nearly 100 hours NBC showed this year to more than 310 total hours in 1992 - 160 on NBC and 150 on cable.
"One of the lessons we learned from Seoul is that many viewers who have very specialized interests wanted to see just that sport, not just 10-minute coverage and have us go to another event," Watson said. "This will enable the more sophisticated viewer to do this."
Not to mention making NBC a little less dependent on network ratings in order to make back what will eventually be a billion dollar investment.