Stephen Colbert. Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy Kimmel. Seth Meyers. Most late-night hosts have come up from the comedy world. However, a select few have been able to take the road less traveled to late-night stardom, such as former bas- ketball player Magic Johnson and model Lauren Hutton.
Actress Busy Philipps, best known for her work in Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek and Cougar Town, has entered the competitive late-night field with her new E! talk show Busy Tonight. The show looks to build off Philipps’ social media persona and will see her give her hilarious and outspoken opinions on the latest pop culture headlines and trending topics. The four-night-a-week series will also feature celebrity guest interviews and comedic segments.
Here’s a look at celebrities who have had an unconventional journey into late-night TV and how they fared.
The Pat Sajak Show was a late-night talk show hosted by the former weatherman best known as host of the TV game show Wheel of Fortune since 1981. CBS initially recruited Sajak to compete with and potentially overthrow NBC’s king of late-night, Johnny Carson. However, Sajak failed to take the late-night throne: His show was quickly “dismissed by critics, talk-show guests and the vast majority of viewers as a dismal flop,” as then-Los Angeles Times writer Steve Weinstein reported in 1990. Executives and producers tried to change course, moving away from typical late-night fare like sidekicks and monologues and adding roundtable discussions at the end of each show. Despite those adjustments, the show was canceled.
On the air: Jan. 9, 1989-March 9, 1990
Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Cartoon Network’s first orig- inal program, refurbished a 1970s superhero cartoon into a quippy late-night talk show with a bricolage of guests — Weird Al Yankovic, Gilligan’s Island star Bob Denver and Fran Lebowitz. Critics em- braced the series, billed as the world’s first late-night talk show hosted by a cartoon superhero. New York Times writer Andy Meisler called the series “perhaps the weirdest, most oddly mesmerizing cult show to hit basic cable since Ren met Stimpy.”
On the air: April 15, 1994- May 31, 2008
Lauren Hutton and ... was a late-night syndicated talk show hosted by the model and actress during the mid- ’90s. Hutton spoke with a di- verse range of guests on her show. However, the show fell flat for critics including Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tuck- er, who gave the show a D rating: “Hutton, an intelligent, frequently amusing talk-show guest in the past, here behaves like a bored Mensa member who’s just deigning to host a talk show until a better offer comes her way.”
On the air: Sept. 11, 1995- May 10, 1996
Seven years after leaving basketball, former Los Ange- les Lakers point guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. entered the late-night arena with The Magic Hour. The charismatic basketball superstar brought admirable energy and enthu- siasm, but the critical recep- tion of the syndicated show was predominately negative, with reviewers claiming that Johnson was not prepared. Critics also lambasted John- son’s lack of chemistry with sidekick Craig Shoemaker, bad comedic timing and over- ly complimentary tone during interviews.
On the air: June 8, 1998- Aug. 6, 1998
With comedian and Acade-
my Award-winner Mo’Nique at the helm, BET’s The Mo’Nique Show aimed to merge the gap between “old school” and contemporary entertainment culture. Mo’Nique utilized comical segments to pay trib- ute to classical stars as well as up-and-comping icons. The show’s format comprised ce- lebrity interviews, monologues and musical performances. But despite her newfound standing in Hollywood in the wake of her success with the Lee Dan- iels drama Precious, the show lasted just two seasons.
On the air: Oct. 8, 2009- Jan. 28, 2012
Watch What Happens Live is a late-night interactive talk show on Bravo hosted by An- dy Cohen. The show centers on conversations between Cohen and his guests, who primarily hail from the pop culture and the celebrity sphere. But while Cohen may be a household name now — his titles include best-selling author, game show host and Real Housewives wran- gler — he got his start behind the scenes. After years spent as a producer at CBS News and later as a programming exec- utive at Bravo, Cohen was able to successfully move in front of the camera as first the hosts of various Bravo reunions and, lat- er, Watch What Happens Live.
On the air: June 16, 2009- present
Pat Sajak was photographed in 1989 when his talk show was on CBS. It lasted one season.