James Corden Faces His Critics as TCA Host: "I Haven't Prepared at All"
The host of CBS' 'Late Late Show' will brave one of the industry's toughest rooms as emcee of the TCA Awards.
This story first appeared in the Aug. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
James Corden has become pretty used to pressure after logging more than 60 viral-friendly episodes of his CBS late-night show since replacing Craig Ferguson in March. So he is ready to take the heat as emcee of the Television Critics Association Awards on Aug. 8 in Beverly Hills. Here, the British writer-actor-stage veteran, 36, reveals his (lack of) plans, his awards-show hosting heroes (paging Neil Patrick Harris!) and the TCA-nominated series he can't stop watching.
Are your hosting plans now firmly in place? Remember, this is a room full of TV critics.
I haven't thought about it yet. I have two children and an hour of TV to do every day — that's my life. What gossip have you got for me? I've got nothing.
The only thing I have is that James Corden is hosting the TCA Awards on Aug. 8.
Come on. Who's leaving from where? Who's signed what deals?
I can't reveal anything at this time. But I can say that you have big shoes to fill as previous hosts have included Bryan Cranston and Key and Peele. The secret is simple: Just make us laugh.
Then you're finished. No chance of that.
Who are your hosting role models?
Neil Patrick Harris' hosting of the Tony Awards was as close to flawless as you can get. Billy Crystal's Academy Awards were sensational. I can make no assurances at all — this whole hosting thing is still quite new to me.
What have you learned about being an emcee from hosting The Late Late Show?
We've learned to use our show constraints as positives. We have less than half the budget of, say, The Tonight Show, but I don't think it feels or looks like it, and I'm very proud of that. Mostly it comes down to effort: The more you put in, the more viewers will respond to that. That's what it comes down to. We have to give the show a reason to exist.
What role have critics played in your career? Do you care what they write about you?
You have to take everything with a grain of salt. I think critical feedback can be a positive thing. All you can ask for from critics is that they understood what it took to get there. Also, a big thing to remember is, just because something you've done isn't good doesn't mean you're not good. Nobody has a faultless career time line. You will learn so much more from your mistakes than you ever will from the successes — you'll learn almost nothing from them. I'm actually very pro constructive and honest criticism.
Are you caught up on some of the new TCA Awards nominees, like program-of-the-year contenders Empire and Transparent?
Empire is fantastic — I'm a huge fan. And Transparent is an incredible example of a person's singular vision for a show. In my experience with the shows I wrote for back in the U.K., I was very lucky to work with networks or producers who would say, "These are not notes; these are suggestions." I've heard that's not always the case in American television.
Can we look forward to any filmed segments during the show? Perhaps some of your famous car karaoke bits?
No, there definitely won't be.
So essentially this is just a way to ingratiate yourself further with critics so you can get nominated for an Emmy next year?
(Laughs.) Well, I don't understand how those things work yet. I'm really just doing it because I saw Bryan Cranston's [hosting stint] and thought, "That was fun." It looked like a nice room.
It also helps that only honorees are in attendance.
Good news for me!