Arsenio Hall Talks The Difficulty Of Being A Black Late Night Host


Arsenio Hall, is Coming To America again on today, March 5th. The actor/comedian/talk show host, joins Charlamagne Tha God on Zoom to tell stories like meeting Eddie Murphy for the first time, time spent with Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle as well as the difficulties of being a talk show host trying to play iconic music from Bobby Brown.

Legends supporting legends only, is part of the experience Hall had while befriending comedian icons Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle. "I loved their relationship. There was never jealousy," he says. "Legends and goats haven’t always gotten along and I love that Chris and Chapelle don’t compete and that’s the way Richard [Pryor] and Eddie [Murphy] were..... I love when the GOATs hang out and drive each other higher."

When did some of these legends meet? Hall recalls the time meeting Murphy while he was in town for The Tonight Show. Keenan Ivory Wayans actually introduced the two when Murphy wanted to work out his set before the show. "Keenan introduced me to Eddie and Eddie said 'I wanted to meet you in person cause my mother thinks we look a like... you don’t look like me.'” This hilarious story led to a friendship like no other. Including the lead into an iconic movie Coming To America and now Coming To America 2.

Was Hall hesitant to bring a sequel to Coming To America? The answer is "oh yes!" He continues "You're afraid of criticism... From Charlamagne to someone on Twitter." However he does think the "true fans" are really going to like the film. It turns out the rumors we've heard of a second Coming To America from the past were all false. "We decided it was great, it did well, we’re going to leave it as it is." He continues, "We loved the first one and had decided to never do a sequel, and then he [Murphy] heard the idea."

"I had to have surgery from the doing the Woo Woo," Hall laughs when Charlamagne starts asking about his former late night show. On the air for six seasons, Charlamagne confesses to Hall that he looked up to him to do his own talk show watching Hall.

What was it like being a black male late night host in the 90's? Difficult. There was a lot of pushback on him from the network and producers. One initiative Hall was persistent about was hiring young black writers and interns. His first intern? Well known director, John Singleton. Hall recalls Singleton wanting to direct even then saying, "It's weird that so much of the prep for that movie was done on this show." He jokes, "Now I look back and I’m glad he said ‘f off sir’ I’m glad he didn’t do what I said all the time."

There was also push back from paramount on songs and artists Hall was trying to book for his show including N.W.A. and Bobby Brown. "I had a cassette tape that Ice Cube handed to me.... he wanted to do 'Fuck the Police' and I was the national ambassador for D.A.R.E.... Paramount wouldn’t let me do it." Hall reveals Ice Cube hated him for many years for not pulling that off. Then Hall tried getting Bobby Brown on the show. "Bobby Brown played me two songs," he tells Charlamagne, "I went to Paramount that I want to do two songs in one night." The songs were 'My Prerogative' and 'Don't Be Cruel.' He told the execs he wanted to do both songs on a Friday night with 'My Prerogative' playing last. They didn't even know who Bobby Brown was, saying things like "I'm sure she's very talented," to Hall. "I realized they were turning me down on things they didn't understand."

Hall talks more about finding a balance being a dad, Wendy Williams documentary and doing his own with Charlamagne. Watch the interview in it's entirety above!

Photo: Getty


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