The Arsenio Hall Show
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|The Arsenio Hall Show|
|Created by||Arsenio Hall
Marla Kell Brown
|Presented by||Arsenio Hall|
|Narrated by||Burton Richardson|
(bandleader, musical director)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||1,248|
|Executive producer(s)||Arsenio Hall|
|Running time||60 minutes (with commercials)|
|Production company(s)||Arsenio Hall Communications
Paramount Domestic Television
|Distributor||Paramount Domestic Television
CBS Television Distribution
|Original run||January 3, 1989– May 27, 1994|
The Arsenio Hall Show is an American variety/talk show that aired late weeknights in syndication from January 3, 1989 to May 27, 1994. The show was created and hosted by comedian/actor Arsenio Hall, and took place at the Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles. A revival of the show will debut September 9, 2013.
Hall had been a host on The Late Show, another talk show on Fox, after the dismissal of Joan Rivers. He was given a 13-week run, during which he became unexpectedly popular. During the monologue of his final appearance as host, Hall stated that the reason he had agreed to only do 13 weeks was because that was as long as he was able to stay, as he had plans "to do other things." He subsequently began working on the Eddie Murphy vehicle Coming to America. He ultimately signed with Paramount Television before Fox finally decided, too late, that they wanted to keep him. Hall had a fairly long connection with Paramount before this, having been the in-house comedian on Paramount's weekly music series Solid Gold for several years and serving as a co-host for its final two years.
Recurrent gags 
One of the show's recurrent gags is affixing a humorous label to a section of the studio audience that is in a seating block left of band's stage, called the "Dogpound" or "dog pound."  Members of the Dogpound jubilantly interacted with Hall, standing up and making a pumping, whirling motion with their raised fists and howling "Wuff, Wuff, Wuff". The labeling is a staple of Hall's opening monologue and almost always begins with the phrase "People who...." In one variation of the gag, Hall designates this section as "People who are currently in a Witness Protection Plan," at which point a camera pans over to that section to reveal a digitally pixillated view of the audience that made it impossible to identify them.
Although not an actual "gag", Burton Richardson's long intro of the show's host (in which he holds the "O" in "Arsenio" for as long as ten seconds right before Hall came out onto the stage, then, in the same breath, finally announce "HALL!") is a staple of the show. In the intro to the final episode, Richardson held his one-breath introduction for exactly twenty seconds, one of the few times he had done so.
A frequent gag in Hall's opening monologue suggests that he still lives in Cleveland and drives himself to Los Angeles every day to host the show. While on these alleged long drives, Hall ponders certain thoughts, referring to them as "things that make you go hmmm...." This running gag inspired a 1990 C+C Music Factory song by that very title. "Things That Make You Go Hmmm..." reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Hall's show was aimed primarily at the younger urban audience, with Eddie Murphy (a personal friend of Hall's) and other performers often featured. The show quickly appealed to young people of all races and began to attract a wide variety of guests (although this popularity with audiences was short-lived, leading to the show's cancellation). It became the show for entertainers to go to in order to reach the "MTV Generation." 
The show was known for the audience's chant of "Woof! Woof! Woof!" while pumping their fists in a circular motion. Some say this was appropriated from the fan chants at Hall's hometown team of Cleveland Browns games. Others have speculated that it came from the chant of Black Greek Letter Organization Omega Psi Phi fraternity. In any case, it quickly became associated with Hall's show and with Hall himself. Arsenio was also well known for his long fingers, and it became a long-running gag including some episodes on "In Living Color."
Hall would notably have friend MC Hammer as an interview and musical guest. He also interviewed "Jason Voorhees", the main character from the popular Friday the 13th series of films around the time of the release of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Muppets creator Jim Henson also appeared on the show 12 days before his death in May 1990, marking one of Henson's last public appearances. Hall also often featured World Wrestling Federation wrestlers, like Hulk Hogan (who first denied using steroids on the program), Ravishing Rick Rude (who made a special set of tights with Hall's face on the back) with Bobby Heenan, Randy Savage, Bad News Brown, the Big Bossman and Akeem with Slick, and the Ultimate Warrior. Other semi-regular guests who were on the Arsenio Hall show included Eddie Murphy, Andrew "Dice Clay" and Paula Abdul.
Queer Nation controversy 
During a May 1991 taping, three or four members of Queer Nation, seated in the back row in different sections of the audience, interrupted Hall's opening monologue demanding to know why he never had any gay guests on the show. Hall's initial answer was that since most of the guests were not open about their sexuality, neither Hall nor the producers knew whether they were gay or not.
When the protesters voiced their offense because the show failed to book filmmaker Gus Van Sant (whose My Own Private Idaho was in production at the time) or actor Harvey Fierstein, Hall defended the show by saying that Elton John had been a guest. Increasingly infuriated, Hall added that he booked guests due to his interest in what they were working on at the time, not because of their sexual preference (specifically, in the case of Fierstein, saying that if he was doing something that Hall found interesting, he would definitely book him as a guest). The heated exchange went on for several minutes, and Hall continued to defend himself as both a comedian and a host, pointing out that he also had gay friends, and that a person's sexual preference was really nobody else's business.
Bill Clinton 
Then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton was a guest on the show in June 1992, playing "Heartbreak Hotel" on the saxophone (causing Arsenio to quip, "It's nice to see a Democrat blow something besides the election"). The appearance is often considered an important moment in Clinton's political career, helping build his popularity among minority and young voters; Clinton went on to win the election in November 1992.
The popularity of the former president's appearance on the show was rekindled, however, on June 6, 2012; when a mashup of his iconic sax solo, set to the tune of M83's "Midnight City", was uploaded to Youtube; instantly going viral and creating buzz all over the web.
Eventual downfall 
The program remained popular into 1993; but as the year went on, Hall and Paramount began having ratings problems due in large part to the premiere of three late-night series before the year was out.
As the 1992-93 season ended, one of Hall's strongest bases were affiliates of CBS, which did not offer much in the way of late night programming other than its nightly crime drama rerun block, and its overnight newscast CBS News Nightwatch (later replaced by Up to the Minute). Among the CBS stations that aired Arsenio at the time were WJW-TV, then the network's affiliate in Hall's hometown of Cleveland; and WBBM-TV in Chicago, one of the network's owned-and-operated stations. Another prominent group of stations that carried the program were affiliates of the still-young Fox, many of which picked up Arsenio to fill the gaps left when The Late Show, which never was able to find an audience, was finally canceled in 1988; this group included at least one Paramount-owned Fox affiliate, WTXF-TV in Philadelphia.
In the summer of 1993 David Letterman, who had spent over 13 years at NBC and the previous 11 as the host of the popular post-Tonight Show program Late Night, left the network due to his dissatisfaction with being passed over for The Tonight Show hosting gig after the retirement of Johnny Carson. Letterman signed with CBS to do a late-night program which would compete head-to-head with the Jay Leno-hosted Tonight Show. This caused a problem for Hall, who had found himself in a similar situation before when his program first premiered. At the time, Carson's program was the only network program airing in the post-local-news time-slots nationwide.
While Paramount was set to launch Arsenio in syndication, CBS was ready to premiere The Pat Sajak Show, which was to have Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak preside over a 90-minute-long program similar to Carson's. However, Hall had two things working in his favor—his prior late-night hosting experience when compared with Sajak's lack of emceeing outside of his Wheel duties, and the fact that his show was to premiere exactly one week before Sajak's to give him a head start. Hall gained many of Sajak's former time-slots when The Pat Sajak Show was canceled within 12 months of its debut. This time however, instead of facing an unproven entity, Hall was facing one of the most popular hosts in late night with the new Late Show with David Letterman becoming an instant hit. That program eventually became the most popular in late night, and Letterman's instant popularity cost Hall most, if not all of his CBS affiliates. Arsenio also found itself losing some of its audience to cable as MTV launched a daily thirty minute late-night program that was hosted by comedian Jon Stewart. The new Jon Stewart Show was an instant success, quickly becoming the second most popular show on MTV behind Beavis and Butt-head shortly after its summer 1993 premiere.
Later, Fox had decided that after several years, they would try and get back into the late night television battle, despite Arsenio drawing ratings on many of its affiliates. In September 1993 the network premiered The Chevy Chase Show on all of its affiliates. Fox scheduled the Chevy Chase-hosted program directly against Leno and Letterman, and since all of the affiliates were required to carry Chase's show, the ones airing Arsenio either were forced to drop the series or move it to an undesirable later time slot. This caused another ratings slide, which was not helped by the rapid failure of The Chevy Chase Show; after its cancellation the stations still airing Arsenio chose to put other programming in the slot, and Hall could not get the timeslots back in all cases. Paramount was running out of patience with Hall, and in early 1994 the final straw came.
In February 1994, Hall booked controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to appear on the show. Despite a press release saying that Hall would have other guests appearing the night of Farrakhan's appearance, Hall instead allowed Farrakhan almost the entire sixty minutes for himself to be interviewed, with the gospel group, Kirk Franklin & The Family, relegated to the very end. The backlash from the appearance and subsequent ratings dip was enough for Paramount to finally cancel Arsenio after five years. Hall's final program aired May 27, 1994.
Paramount, which had been bought by MTV's parent company Viacom shortly before the cancellation of Arsenio, elected to keep going and decided to replace Hall's show with a syndicated, sixty-minute edition of The Jon Stewart Show beginning in the fall of 1994. However, Stewart's syndicated series was nowhere near as popular as his MTV series was and The Jon Stewart Show ended its run at the end of the television season in 1995. Paramount did not attempt another late night syndicated variety program after that, and the only other attempt Paramount made at running a daily variety show after that came in 1998 when The Howie Mandel Show was launched in daytime syndication; that too never found an audience and was cancelled within a year.
On June 18, 2012, Hall and CBS Television Distribution (which now owns the Paramount Television library) signed a deal to produce a new late-night talk show, targeted to debut on September 9, 2013. The new program will tentatively air on stations owned by CBS Television Stations, Tribune Broadcasting, and Local TV, in some cases on stations which also carried Hall's original program.
Awards and nominations 
- 1993: "Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Series", for episode "The 1000th show" — won
- 1990: "Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or a Special" — won
- 1990: "Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series" — nominated
- 1989: "Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or a Special" — nominated
- 1989: "Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Series" — nominated
- 1989: "Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program" — nominated
- 1995: "Outstanding Variety Series" — won
- 1993: "Outstanding Variety Series/Special" — won
See also 
- Boyd, Todd (1994-07-17). "Society's Mirror". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
- Cerone, Daniel (1994-04-22). "Late-Night War: Who Gets Hall's Time Slots?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
- Lippman, John (1994-04-19). "Arsenio Hall Show Given Pink Slip After Low Ratings". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
- Kogan, Rick (1989-01-05). "Arsenio Hall's New Show Struts Onto Airwaves". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
- Svetkey, Benjamin (1990-12-28). "Arsenio Hall: One of 1990's great entertainers". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
- The Late Show with Arsenio Hall: Final Show
- Njeri, Itabari (1989-04-16). "We Be Havin' a Ball, Says Arsenio Hall. But Can the Talk-Show Host's Hip New Style Succeed on Late-Night TV?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
- TV Acres article about the "Dogpound"
- Britt, Donna (July 10, 1989). "Arsenio Hall, On a Late-Night Mission; Targeting the MTV Generation, & Gaining on Carson". The Washington Post.
- Jason Voorhees on Arsenio
- Jim Henson on Arsenio Hall
- Video of Arsenio's conflict with Queer Nation
- Kolbert, Elizabeth (1992-06-05). "The 1992 Campaign: Media; Whistle-Stops a la 1992: Arsenio, Larry and Phil". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
- "Road warriors". Washington Monthly (The Free Library). 1 January 1993. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
- Shapiro, Walter (1992-06-15). "Clinton Plays It Cool". Time. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
- "ILL CLINTON".
- "Hipster Runoff".
- "'Arsenio Hall Show' Given Pink Slip After Low Ratings : Television: Some network affiliates swung away from syndicated program when David Letterman joined CBS. J". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
- "Louis Farrakhan to appear on 'The Arsenio Hall Show' Friday, Feb. 25; Popular gospel group 'The Kirk Franklin Family' also scheduled to perform". PR Newswire. 7 February 1994. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
- Rosenberg, Howard (28 February 1994). "Arsenio Hall vs. Louis Farrakhan: It's a Rout". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
- Braxton, Greg (25 February 1994). "Farrakhan Appearance on 'Arsenio' Sparks Furor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
- "Arsenio Hall Quits Late-Night Show". The New York Times. 19 April 1994. Retrieved 25 May 2012.