They tricked us. Just weeks ago, Arsenio made the daytime talk show rounds smiling his oversized toothy grin when sharing that The Arsenio Hall Show had been renewed for a second season. Breaking down how he received the news, Hall detailed his meeting with a TV honcho who asked a few key questions before saying they were bringing the show back. The audience clapped. Arsenio cheesed. And the vibe was good.
Then the finicky side of Hollywood showed its shady head. Friday, word of the cancellation of The Arsenio Hall Show spread across the land of social media. In a statement Arsenio said, “I'm gratified for the year we've had and proud of the show we created."
But why the Yoyo play of emotions? CBS Television Production had announced in February the show was returning. But apparently a changing of Arsenio’s timeslot would prove a ratings drop, so minds were changed leaving Hall packing for an early summer vacation.
Over 20 years ago, after a debut in 1989, The Arsenio Hall Show was the late night place to be. With his dog howls and fists in the air, Arsenio always had the most popular artists and best interviews given from an African American perspective that injected comedy, intelligence, and even a saxophone playing Bill Clinton. When Hall returned in 2013, he attempted to pick up where he left off. Featuring everyone from Kendrick Lamar to Prince, Hall brought back feel good vibes from the 90s.
But in the modern day late night wars against Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and soon-to-be retired Dave Letterman − not to mention foul-mouthed cable hosts − Arsenio’s growth slowed. He injected games and other gimmicks to stretch and pull up ratings. At one point, he sent a frustrating tweet hinting at hardships in getting past difficult gatekeepers when working to book top notch talent.
"While there are many loyal fans of the show," CBS Television Distribution said in a statement, "the series did not grow its audience enough to continue.”
Now, after only one season, the show is gone. And Arsenio is back on the sidelines, a victim of the bloody war that's cut out the second man of color on evening talk TV. Tavis Smiley remains on PBS. While reruns of Arsenio can be seen until a schedule replacement is made. Production officially ended May 21.
“When I started this adventure with CTD and Tribute, we all knew it would be a challenge — I'm gratified for the year we've had and proud of the show we created” Arsenio said. “I'd like to thank everyone on my staff for rallying around me and striving to make the best show possible each night."