James Corden is a Tony winner, but you didn’t hear that last night in his “Late Late Show” introduction. (Maybe CBS doesn’t want people to know?) Anyway, the immensely talented Corden kicked off his reign as host of the show vacated by Craig Ferguson with a classy, funny video. Meryl Streep, Chelsea Handler, and most importantly Jay Leno, helped him in video.
Corden finds a Willy Wonka-like gold ticket that brings him to CBS and Leno, who will teach him how to be a talk show host. It’s a little bit “Whiplash,” which is funny. Leno gets to give NBC a good zetz by appearing on a rival network and endorsing one of their talk shows. He whips Corden into shape, with a little help as well from Meryl Streep, Alison Janney and Shia LaBeouf.
Among the celebs who look in vain for their own gold tickets included Oscar winner (and Corden’s pal) Eddie Redmayne, Chris Rock, Billy Crystal, and — wisely– Chelsea Handler. Handler was strongly tipped to take over for Ferguson, so her participation was a nice inside joke.
For the first show, Corden brought out both of his guests– Tom Hanks and Mila Kunis– out at the same time. They were seated on a small couch to the right, with Corden on the left. An orchestrated “spontaneous” announcement of Kunis’s marriage to Ashton Kutcher came off as a surprise if you were half asleep and a publicist’s plan if you were awake. Kunis’s ring is HUGE.
Two guests at a time? Joe Franklin is smiling from heaven.
Corden’s parents also waved from the audience. They’re from a small town in Great Britain and look about as shocked as Corden that he’s got this show. But they better get used to it. He’s going to be around a long time.