CBS Cancels ‘The Arsenio Hall Show’

Published 11 months ago by

arsenio hall cancelled CBS Cancels The Arsenio Hall Show

When Johnny Carson walked away from The Tonight Show in 1992, he did so of his own accord after 30 years in the chair, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t pressure behind the scenes and apprehension about Carson’s ability to stand in against the far hipper Arsenio Hall when it came to courting younger viewers.

Carson was 66 years old at the time, but now Hall, at age 58, is one of late night’s elder-statesmen, and his time on the air is ending – at least for now.

Launched 19 years after the last iteration of his show went off the air, The Arsenio Hall Show has been canceled after just one season in syndication. It seems that the TV Gods have a vicious sense of humor – one could, at least partially, pin some of Hall’s more recent troubles to the gravitational pull of The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon‘s success.

Here’s CBS’ statement on the cancellation:

“Unfortunately, ‘The Arsenio Hall Show’ will not return for a second season; while there are many loyal fans of the show, the series did not grow its audience enough to continue. Arsenio is a tremendous talent and we’d like to thank him for all the hard work and energy he put into the show. We’d also like to thank Tribune and all our station group partners for their support of the show.”

According to Variety, the show was “facing significant downgrades from stations and the Eye determined that the show would not be financially viable.”

Originally given the go-ahead for season 2 in February with an announcement on Hall’s show by Jay Leno in his first post-Tonight Show appearance, Hall now departs without getting a chance to record a send-off episode since the last original episode aired on May 21st.

At this point, it’s hard to forecast where Hall goes from here. Right now, there are high profile late night vacancies on CBS and TBS for the 12:35 and midnight timeslots, but people rarely fail upwards and a big part of Hall’s appeal when he returned to late night stemmed from the pull of nostalgia for his original series. It seems unlikely that that would help him out this time.

arsenio hall success CBS Cancels The Arsenio Hall Show

Despite this failure, though, Hall did show that he still has something left in the tank, but it seems obvious that he would have to adapt his style (perhaps to something a bit more intimate that pushes his skills as an interviewer to the fore) to secure another chance in late night. It’s doubtful that someone will come along with an interest in funding the edgiest show in late night (circa 1993) for a third time.

As for the future of late night comedy syndication, one wonders if this experience will re-open the doors a bit. Book-ended by Hall’s two shows, a parade of splashy late night entries with intriguing hosts popped up in syndication in the ’90s with shows hosted by Dennis Miller (who later went on to host the far superior Dennis Miller Live on HBO), Whoopi Goldberg, a pre-Daily Show Jon Stewart, and less renowned late night hosts and comic minds like Lauren Hutton and Magic Johnson.

Is there a big name out there who could inspire Tribune or CBS to convince affiliates to once again delve into the late night waters and abandon the stability of late night sitcom re-runs? Possibly, but with Fallon topping the charts on NBC, Kimmel standing strong, Colbert nearing his start date with CBS and a whole host of other options in the very crowded cable arena, that would have to be a really big name.


The Arsenio Hall Show ran from September 2013 to May 2014 on local affiliates across the country.

Source: Variety

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  1. He had some decent guests on his show. His comedy was the only thing lacking.

  2. Is there anything besides the other 2 big late night shows that is financially viable at that time slot? Unless it’s costing more than they make, I don’t see what you’d replace Hall’s show with.

    • Conan O’Brien?
      The Daily Show?

  3. The original Arensio Hall was just that — original. It was fresh and exciting. I happy to see him come back, but not enough to stop watching the Daily Show and Colbert. I think the 11:30 p.m. market is just too crowded for another host. Conan should count himself lucky that he still has a show.

    At this point, I don’t think the ticket to success is big name. The secret is a fresh approach to comedy and a new format. The Colbert Report was a new approach. In fact, I think it is better than the show that spawned it. I have hopes that The Minority Report will be solid replacement for the Colbert Report.

  4. Arsenio and his producers should have done more to stand out in a crowded field. He was older than most of his competitor and the only African-American.

    He’d have been smart to focus on those demographics woefully under-represented. Bring in more live performances from musicians and comedians. Special appearances from 80s, 90s icons largely ignored in recent decades.

    Very sorry to see his show go after only one season. Glad he had the chance. Syndicated original programming is largely a dead format with so many channels offering original shows on cable. This likely the nail in the coffin to ventures like these.

  5. It seemed like him winning Celebrity Apprentice and getting his own show shortly thereafter was all contrived by the network…a stunt that I knew would not work.

  6. This late night format is going the way of the newspaper and your local library, a slowly dying breed. I’m not surprised this attempt fell short.

  7. When I saw freakin’ D-list stars as his guests, that’s when I knew the show wouldn’t last. It’s a shame, cause I love the guy and I rather enjoyed the second run of his show.

  8. I thought his show was a CW network show until I read that the CW is a joint venture of CBS and Warner Bros Entertainment. I’m not surprised CBS did this. They have a history of cancelling black entertainers shows. Remember when they cancelled Bill Cosby? Ever since then I’ve always referred to CBS as standing for Cancel Black Shows.

    How about it TRUMP? Think its time for you to support your apprentice and bankroll a new show for him on BET!

  9. Arsenio, just push for a Coming to America 2 after Eddie films Beverly Hills Cop 4 and retire lol / also, it woulda been great if Arsenio had Kennan Ivory Wayans do his impression of him again as a guest on his show from the In Loving Color days haha

  10. The show was horrible. Enough said!