Some of you may not be old enough to remember that Carson Daly used to hang out with all of the cool kids on MTV way back when that channel loved music and he hosted “Total Request Live.” For the last decade, he’s also hosted his own late-late night talk show “Last Call” on NBC and, most recently, NBC’s mega hit “The Voice.”
As Daly prepares to take on a new role for TODAY as host of the Orange Room, we asked the 40-year-old TV and radio veteran to share some of his career highlights. First of all, he said, he loves live television, so his time on “The Voice” and his New Year’s Eve specials rated highly. But “Last Call” has a special place in his heart, too, especially one particular cruise he took with a music icon.
“I’m really proud that 'Last Call' has been on for over a decade — we had thousands of diverse guests — it was great practice for TODAY,” he told TODAY.com. “I got to ride around in New York with Sir Paul McCartney on a yacht and talk about him and Lennon writing songs in Liverpool. It was surreal.”
Of course, Daly couldn't take a trip down memory lane without considering his four years on "TRL." Although his job was to interview the rich and famous, Daly said the show's work after the 9/11 attacks stands out in his mind as one of his proudest achievements.
“There were a lot of highs and lows to that," he said. "I’m proud of what we did in New York after 9/11. I was part of the team that went back to work right away. We were one of first productions that went back on air, and we had to really think about what to tell the kids watching 'TRL.' Twelve years later, people still say to me, 'I remember that day when 'TRL' came back on after 9/11.'"
As the first host of "TRL," Daly had his share of memorable interviews. He's had a longstanding friendship with Madonna over the years, and in 2002 he interviewed Michael Jackson in Times Square and went record shopping with the King of Pop.
"That was a thrill for me," Daly said. "The major players, if you will, in music, were always exciting."
We agree. Here, we pick a few of our favorite Carson Daly moments.
In 2001, Mariah Carey showed up unexpectedly on "TRL" wearing an over-sized T-shirt that said “Loverboy” and a pair of heels, while pushing an ice cream cart. Then, she stripped off her clothes to reveal gold go-go shorts and a green “Supergirl” halter. Then she said she needed therapy. And then it got really weird. Daly just kept asking, "What are you doing?" but handled the situation with humor and kept his cool.
We didn't ask Daly if he considered his 2003 MTV roast a highlight, but we sure do. The fun times included Madonna mocking his flourishing love life.
And Britney Spears delivered some zingers. "My friend Carson is the kind of man who will talk to anyone, any time, about anything while still managing to say absolutely nothing at all.”
Even ex-girlfriend Jennifer Love Hewitt appeared to give him a hard time about their break-up. (They had a sweet moment on "Last Call" two years later when they made up and he confessed he had a tattoo of her name on his leg that he had to cover up.)
Daly was also a good sport when his friend Jimmy Fallon impersonated him on "Saturday Night Live." The two buddies reunited on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" to remember those (not so) great times for Daly. Ultimately, Daly proves he's not afraid to laugh at himself and that's what's led to many of his most memorable moments.