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Series / The Arsenio Hall Show

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"I'm gonna kick Jay Leno's ass."
Arsenio Hall being very optimistic

The Arsenio Hall Show is an American variety/talk show that aired late weeknights in syndication from January 3, 1989 to May 27, 1994. The show was created and hosted by comedian/actor Arsenio Hall. Hall had been a host on The Late Show (no, not that one), another talk show on FOX, after the dismissal of Joan Rivers. He was given a 13-week run, during which he became unexpectedly popular. During the monologue of his final appearance as host, Hall stated that the reason he had agreed to only do 13 weeks was because that was as long as he was able to stay, as he had plans "to do other things." He subsequently began working on the Eddie Murphy vehicle Coming to America. He ultimately signed with Paramount Television before Fox finally decided, too late, that they wanted to keep him. (This was the second hosting job Paramount hired Hall for, as he had just finished a three-year run as a co-host of Solid Gold in July 1988.)

Hall's show was aimed primarily at the younger urban audience, with Eddie Murphy (a personal friend of Hall's) and other performers often featured. The show quickly appealed to young people of all races and began to attract a wide variety of guests. It became the show for entertainers to go to in order to reach the "MTV Generation" (at a time when Paramount and MTV were not yet under common ownership). It was also the only late night program to fully embrace the Hip-Hop and Grunge movement of the 1990's while the other shows shunned them (until Arsenio became huge that is). Then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton was a guest on the show in June 1992, playing "Heartbreak Hotel" on the saxophone (causing Arsenio to quip, "It's nice to see a Democrat blow something besides the election"). The appearance is often considered an important moment in Clinton's political career, helping build his popularity among minority and young voters; Clinton went on to win the election in November 1992.

The show was known for the audience's chant of "Roo! Roo! Roo!" while pumping their fists in a circular motion. Some say this was appropriated from the fan chants at Cleveland Browns games, and others say that it came from the chant of Black Greek Letter Organization Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. In any case, it quickly became associated with Hall's show.

The program remained popular into 1993, but as the year went on Hall and Paramount began having rating problems. Most of the stations that carried the show were CBS and FOX affiliates, both of which didn't have their own late-night talk shows at the time — the former since The Pat Sajak Show was cancelled in 1990 after lasting barely a year, the latter since The Late Show was cancelled in 1988. In summer 1993, after being snubbed for the succession of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in favor of Jay Leno, David Letterman debuted his own talk show on CBS, making Arsenio redundant for its affiliates. In September, FOX premiered The Chevy Chase Show and forced its affiliates to either cancel Arsenio Hall or move him to another, less desirable slot; despite the former being cancelled within five weeks amid bad ratings and reviews, affiliates were reluctant to move the latter back. These losses ultimately led to the show's cancellation. His replacement was the short-lived Jon Stewart Show.

A new version of the show debuted in September 2013, produced by Tribune Broadcasting, and distributed by CBS Television Distribution (a descendant of Paramount Television), and, at first, was renewed for the 2014-15 season, with Leno - in his first appearance since leaving The Tonight Show for a second and final time - making a surprise appearance on the February 26, 2014 episode to read the renewal notice. However, CBS Television Distribution would renege on this decision, cancelling the show three months later on May 30.

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