UK Markets close in 4 hrs 33 mins

James Corden Looks Back at 1,000 Episodes of ‘The Late Late Show’ as He Mulls Whether to Renew His Deal

·5-min read

After a hosting “The Late Late Show” for a thousand episodes, James Corden now knows why his gig is so coveted. “These are very difficult jobs to leave, because you work with incredible people and you do something that’s really amazing every day,” he said. “I never used to understand before I started this, how people could do these [talk show hosting] jobs for 15, 20, 25 years. But I see it now.”

Corden, who is in the midst of discussing his future with CBS — his contract is up next August — told Variety that he’s not sure yet how or when he’ll decide what to do. “I’m so conscious of wanting it to always be fresh,” he said. “I want it to always be fresh and alive. And in the same token, I never really saw this job as a final destination. I saw it as a stop on a journey. So I honestly don’t know the answer to that.”

More from Variety

For now, at least, it’s time to celebrate: “The Late Late Show With James Corden,” which premiered on March 23, 2015, marks episode 1,000 on Wednesday with a guest list that includes Mariah Carey. “She was the very first ‘Carpool Karaoke’ guest, and so she’s very meaningful to us,” said executive producer Rob Crabbe. “We sort of owe a debt of gratitude to her. And there will be a couple of little surprises here and there.”

Because most talk shows air weekly in his British homeland, Corden marvels at the fact that he has hit four digits in less than seven years. “When see that, I think, crikey, that’s a lot of television that we’ve made,” he said. “That’s a lot of stuff that we’ve put out there. I feel very proud of the show, and I feel equally as proud of the environment that we’ve created here. That the group of people that we work with, the personalities and just the environment that we work in feels so nurturing and fulfilling and caring and kind. That that to me, if you make a show that airs 1,000 times but it’s been a turbulent time making it, then what’s the point? Whereas this feels like such a wonderful atmosphere and such a wonderful group of people to go to work with every day.”

Indeed, much of the show’s team — including exec producers Crabbe and Ben Winston — have been with “Late Late Show” since day one, and there has been very little turnover in the ranks. “Not to pat ourselves on the back, but we did a pretty good job of hiring,” Crabbe said. “We knew that by hiring good people, they grow into their roles. And so we’ve been able to maintain the core group for the entire time.”

Crabbe said he’s not too introspective about episode 1,000, but he does think back to the show’s early days: “When I moved here from New York, James and Ben moved here from London, and we all stepped foot into Los Angeles on the same day in January 2015. And I think all three of us did everything temporarily,” he said. “I rented a house, I rented a car, I just sort of assumed that within six months, I’d be back in New York. And so hitting the one-year anniversary when we thought like, ‘Oh, alright, we might get to do this for a little bit.’ That was kind of the significant part. But then getting to 1,000 shows is of course amazing. And I’m pleased that we all were able to do it together.”

Winston, who quipped that “we’ve probably overstayed our welcome by about 700 episodes,” called the experience of producing “Late Late Show” a “fantasy” job. “The last six and a half years have just felt like a real blessing, because in this industry, it’s what you sort of wish for. A show that just feels so joyful and exciting and something that you just love to get up every morning and do. The fact that we’ve done 1,000 just amazes me that we’re still enjoying it and so happy to still be making it.”

“The Late Late Show” has continued to evolve over time, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the show returned to its studio, first without an audience, it began opening with a looser, conversational monologue featuring the entire crew.

“We’re very fortunate to have Reggie Watts, who’s an incredible comedian, and force of nature,” Corden said. “One of our head writers, Ian Karmel, is an incredibly accomplished stand-up comedian.” In bringing those two in, “this just starts to become more of an organic conversation than a run of 15 setup/punchline jokes in a monologue. We never thought it would get to a point where we would be taping those monologues for like 20 minutes, half an hour.”

Added Crabbe: “It’s sort of the closest version of what I thought TV was when I was 14 years old. We’re just in a room with your friends making a TV show.”

As Winston looks back at the 1,000 episodes of “The Late Late Show,” he said he’s most proud of the show’s ambition and what it brought to pop culture, including viral segments like “Carpool Karaoke,” “Drop the Mic,” “Crosswalk the Musical” and “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts.” “There’s a lot more memories than maybe if we’ve just done a sort of talk show,” he said. “I think that what’s quite lovely for us is to look back on a real bank of ambition and sketches and carpools and drop the mics and spill your guts and crosswalk the musicals and all these sort of crazy things that we’ve managed to get people to do. Hopefully will continue and go forward. So yeah, it’s a lovely thing to look back on that bank of work.”

(Photo: Ben Winston and Rob Crabbe flank James Corden)

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting