(Publisher’s note: Yesterday, we happened to be in Seth Meyers’ office conducting an interview with him when the news broke that James Corden had been selected as Craig Ferguson’s replacement on ‘The Late Late Show.’ We got to break the news to Meyers. Here is how the interview went down.)
Pajiba — In your first year in, ratings are going very well for Late Night. Basically, NBC is dominating late night across the board. In fact, your ratings are so good these days that you are beating David Letterman in his last year, even though Letterman comes on an hour before. That’s gotta be satisfying.
Meyers — Absolutely. I can’t take all the credit, though. Jimmy is giving me a huge boost with The Tonight Show, and I love Craig Ferguson over on ‘The Late Late Show’ but with everything over there in flux, I’m not getting a huge ratings challenge at the moment.
Pajiba — Are you worried at all about who might replace Ferguson, and what that might mean for your show?
Meyers — I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. I mean, look: I’m very proud of the show we’re putting on so far. But the simple fact is, I’m another white guy in a sea of white guys, so I’m obviously nervous about who they are going to choose. Obviously, I welcome any and all diversity to late night, but yes, I am concerned about what audiences might do if they were actually presented with another option, whether it be a woman or a minority.
Pajiba — You think that could affect your ratings?
Meyers — Oh, absolutely it could. Minorities and women aren’t represented in late night basically at all, and I think if a woman were chosen to succeed Ferguson, there’d be a sea change. I think there’d still be plenty of women who would tune into my show because my sense of humor and my sensibility isn’t exactly gender specific. But if CBS hires a woman, there are plenty of women — and men —- who would at least sample the show to see if it better reflects their own identities and personalities. I’d like to believe that they’d come back, but I’m sure I would lose some viewers initially. But the burden would be on the new Late Late Show host to keep those viewers. Obviously, there’s more to a late-night host than gender, but a woman could definitely bring a point of view to late night that the rest of us cannot.
Pajiba — Right. Well, who are you worried about the most?
Meyers — Oh, I don’t want to give CBS any ideas or anything …
Pajiba — Actually, we are just now hearing reports that CBS has selected a new host.
Meyers — Really? Oh wow! Who is it? OH WAIT. Don’t tell me. Let me guess.
Pajiba — OK!
Meyers — I’m so nervous. I bet it’s Aisha Tyler, right? I gotta be honest. She was my biggest fear. She’s brilliant, funny, and fast on her feet. She would do some serious damage to my ratings, I have to say. That smarts!
Pajiba — Nope. Not her.
Meyers — Whew! That’s a relief. Is it Aziz? I was a little worried about him, too. He’s so funny, and he has such a different perspective on the world than the rest of us.
Pajiba — No. Not him.
Meyers — Hannibal Buress? He’s not very well known in mainstream circles yet, but in the long term, he’d be a HUGE competitor. He would rock late night’s world over the next two decades.
Pajiba — Not him, either.
Meyers — Did they land Amy Schumer? Oh God! That actually makes me a little sick to my stomach. I am SO fucked if they got Schumer. Say goodbye to my female audience, plus everyone under the age of 35. I am so screwed.
Pajiba — It isn’t her, either.
Meyers — Well, I know it’s not Tina or Amy or even Cecily because I’d have heard about that already. I have no idea. Don’t tell me they talked Ellen into it? Tell me, who did they hire?
Pajiba — Are you sure you’re ready for this.
Meyers — No, not really. But tell me anyway.
Pajiba — Okay. His name is James Corden.
Meyers — …
Pajiba — Seth?
Meyers — …
Pajiba — Seth, why are you grinning like a Cheshire cat who just swallowed a goddamn mouse?
Meyers — You said James Corden, right?
Pajiba — Yes.
Meyers — British guy?
Pajiba — Uh huh.
Meyers — Are you serious?
Pajiba — Yes, I am serious. James Corden. From … Gavin & Stacey, right?
Meyers — (*disappears underneath the table, barely contains his laughter. Maniacally murmurs Corden’s name over and over*)
Pajiba — Seth, are you going to be OK?
Meyers — (*quickly pulls himself together*) Are you kidding me? OF COURSE, I’m going to be OK. My competition is James f**king Corden! He’s like Craig Ferguson without the name recognition. He’s white. He’s male. He’s just like the rest of us, only nobody knows who the hell he is! Could CBS be any dumber? I mean, REALLY?! If Amy and I were still on “Update,” we would have a FIELD DAY with this choice. Unbelievable. JAMES CORDEN.
Thank you, CBS. You’ve made me the happiest man in late night.