Arsenio Hall on his return to late night: I've got to 'get my hustle on'
"The Arsenio Hall Show" is coming back to TV this fall after almost 20 years since it last signed off. While Hall says viewers can expect to see a different late-night show than the one he left behind in the 1990s, there's one thing he's pretty sure will follow him wherever he goes: the dog-pound chant.
"I've got a feeling when I walk out this time, they'll be doing (that)," Hall told TODAY.com.
The raised fist "Woo! Woo! Woo!" chant may have helped Hall become one of the biggest names in late night during the '90s, but despite his former success, he told reporters Friday he's basically starting over with his show.
"I've got to go find mine and grind and get my hustle on," he said during a conference call. "I’m the new guy and I’m coming to get mine."
Like the "Arsenio" of the past, the one-hour show will feature a mix of comedy, music and interviews with celebrity guests.
"Five years ago when I decided to put this all back together and I realized that it was going to be very, very hard. I realized that there wasn’t going to be a couch and chair waiting for me to return," he said.
Hall, who interviewed everyone from Madonna to Snoop Dog to then presidential hopeful Bill Clinton during his nearly five-seasion run, said he left the late-night scene 19 years ago to "seek some balance in my life as a man ... and do some soul searching," but is excited to bring a new kind of show to television.
"I'm different, so my show must be different," he said.
He does, however, plan to bring back some of his old show's biggest guests, including Mariah Carey, who made her very first television appearance on Hall's program in September 1990. She performed her single, "Vision of Love," but Hall said that due to her then-manager Tommy Mottola, he got cheated out of interviewing her.
"I remember ... saying, ‘Tommy I want to ask Mariah this tonight.’ And I would get a message back, ‘Not only can you not ask her that, but you’re not interviewing her tonight,' " Hall said. "I never had the interview with Mariah that I always wanted to have. And now it’s even better because it’s been 20 years and she's still relevant and I’m proud of that. So I look forward to doing the interview I never got to do, the uncontrolled one where I get to sit with her and really kick it."
Also on the guest list? Magic Johnson, who, after announcing he was HIV positive in 1991, appeared on Hall's show to discuss his disease for the first time. The comedian, however, originally didn't want to do the segment.
"One of the greatest nights of my late night life was ... when Magic called me and said he wanted to make his announcement on the show," Hall said. "I said no initially. I said, ‘Magic, that’s heavy s---, that’s too serious, man. I’ll go with you and we’ll do it with Larry King or whatever. And he said, ‘No dog, it’s important that I do this with you.’ And then we did it."
Despite his connections, Hall said he's going into the new late-night scene humble.
"I think it’s a bad look to come back with a sense of entitlement or any element of arrogance," he said. "(It) is much more crowded than when I left, and I know that I’ve got to get in and try to work hard for mine. I’m not coming in complacent. I can’t do that. I can’t come in like a Laker. I’m coming in like a Clipper.
"Nothing is given to you in this life. You earn every drop of it by working hard."
"The Arsenio Hall Show" premieres Sept. 9. Check ArsenioHall.com for air times.