Not too late for Larry Wilmore

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Jan. 19 TV Picks: ‘The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore’.

These aren’t the words you might expect to hear from the host of new late-night comedy show to describe his television program just days before the premier.When you walk onto the set of Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show, which debuts tonight, you can tell that it’s the same space The Colbert Report occupied just weeks ago.

“It’s kind of a hybrid, if you will, of ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘Politically Incorrect,'” Wilmore said in this story. “The first part of the show is the scripted part where I’m weighing in, giving my take on the events or event of the day that we’re going to be talking about.While the Golden Globes voting body, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, is famous for rewarding new shows and talent, sometimes at the expense of longer-running shows and stars, Gina Rodriguez’s win last week for her turn in this winsome and complex dramedy is indeed wonderful and worth checking out.

Where Colbert’s desk sat, there’s a Meet the Press-style table with five seats, instead of Stephen Colbert’s one-person desk, but that’s about the only major change (even though the set was built from the ground up, as seen in the time-lapse video below). Rodriguez (pictured, with Justin Baldoni) plays a young woman who, thanks to a colossal mistake at the doctor’s office, is artificially inseminated. Monday on Comedy Central — the old “Colbert Report” timeslot — Wilmore tells a group of reporters, “If ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘Politically Incorrect’ had a kid, it would be this show.” On one side, a desk with several chairs invites panel discussion across from a green screen. And if the billing of his show is any indication, “The Nightly Show” will truly be unlike any other nightly late night comedy show on television today. On the other, there are shelves decorated with old clocks, cameras and typewriters opposite a wall of clocks with jokey time zones such as Pasadena, Obama’s Birth Place and Pompeii among others.

In fact, when I asked the show’s executive producer, Rory Albanese, whom I’ve known for years, if he would be comfortable if I wrote an article titled “the show that doesn’t care about laughs,” I thought he was going to hit me. Wilmore, who was just about to begin test shows when he spoke with reporters last week at the Television Critics Assocation winter press tour, was planning to break “Nightly” into several segments.

While Colbert featured a self-aggrandizing caricature basking in his own cluelessness, Nightly ditches the fake TV pundits for real debates among real people. “We’re just keeping it a hundred,” host Larry Wilmore says. “That’s ‘keeping it one hundred percent real,’ for people who don’t know. The similarities are that Wilmore’s show will open with a scripted comedy segment akin to what we see on “The Daily Show,” where Wilmore has served as the “senior black correspondent” since 2006. Rory didn’t know what it meant for months.” “I’m like, ‘Great idea, Larry!’” says Wilmore’s co-creator Rory Albanese, air-Googling into an imaginary keyboard.

It’ll go wherever it goes.” Late night: Jay Baruchel guests on “Conan” (10 p.m., TBS), Anthony Mackie guests on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” (10:35 p.m., WDSU), Bad Suns perform on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (10:35 p.m., WGNO). I think we may cover the State of the Union address.” He also said he would address the controversial all-white acting nominees at this year’s Oscars — but that he would coyly save his salvos for a later date. Quite simply, he is someone worth watching, which is why Stewart created “Nightly” for him, under the auspices of his Busboy Productions, after Colbert left to take over David Letterman’s late-night show on CBS. When Jon Stewart first pitched the idea (a show originally titled The Minority Report, a title ultimately scrapped to avoid confusion with the movie of the same name), he wanted a vehicle to showcase voices that aren’t normally showcased. Wilmore’s mild-mannered demeanor and dimple belie a trenchant wit. “Larry is the guy you want to bring out to dinner with you,” says Kenya Barris, who worked with Wilmore on the ABC sitcom “black-ish.” “You sit and have a conversation, and it’s the best conversation.

Wilmore says he is fond of voices who “might be too dangerous for a network sitcom.” The show’s first panel will be about protest as an idea — with guests including New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, rapper Talib Kweli and comedian Bill Burr. Wilmore said the booking of guests will be a fluid process that may go “up to the last second.” Even so, Albanese added that John Leguizamo will be coming, as well as President Obama’s speechwriter Jon Lovett, Soledad O’Brien, New York magazine writer Frank Rich and New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick. “To me, provocative means be entertaining,” Wilmore says. “And provocation comes out of authenticity about something we’re really interested in and we really care about.

I’m expecting really good things.” That Wilmore is also black — not the first to host a late-night show, but the only one currently — is a change of pace in a landscape historically dominated by white men. Day, much of early episodes’ discussion will likely focus on the racial issues that consumed the United States in 2014. “[King] is the patron saint of the nonviolent protest,” Wilmore says. “Protests, in particular, will I think be our first topic.” But it’s not all doom and gloom; Wilmore insists he’s looking to create a mood that straddles “provocative” and “light.” “This is my barber shop,” he says. “No matter how heated it gets, we’re all in the barber shop—we’re having fun. The Los Angeles native is the Emmy-winning creator of “The Bernie Mac Show,” co-creator of the critically acclaimed animated series “The PJs,” and served as a writer on “In Living Color,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” and “The Office,” on which he also appeared.

Interestingly, Wilmore told us before we started the discussion: “No jokes from your act, keep it a real conversation and the humor will flow organically from that.” Well, Wilmore was right. We did have a provocative conversation about issues from police brutality to anti-Muslim bigotry to Bill Cosby that was both very real and often very funny. But on another, he is a black guy hosting a late-night talk show, and there is baggage that comes with that, particularly from the minority community. Larry responded, “Yeah, great idea.” Stewart then added; “And I want you to host it.” Wilmore said he was stunned for a moment, but then responded, “Yeah, great idea.” Will the show find an audience?

And in 2008, the Comedy Central audience did not take to David Allen Grier’s “The Chocolate News” – a look at the news in a comedic way from the black point of view. You can’t get blacker than ‘The PJs,’” says Barris with a laugh, confident that Wilmore will put minority issues into a larger context. “And now when I get on and they see me talking about some stuff they’ve been wanting to talk about,” says Wilmore, citing the fatal shooting by police of a black man in Ferguson, Mo., “that’s what I mean about keeping it real and keeping it real funny. “I think once people start seeing the show, those [issues of representing the community] will start coming up,” says Wilmore. “I had to deal with it on ‘The PJs,’ I had to deal with it on ‘In Living Color.’ I’ve dealt with that kind of thing all the time, and I welcome that because that means people are talking about it.” And getting people talking about issues that affect everyone is what Wilmore is after. “I always said this is not a show where I say, ‘Look, I’m right about this and I want to talk about it.’ I disagree with myself half the time,” he says. “So I’m happy to have people upset the narrative. Albanese described Wilmore as “comedy Jedi.” Now, if I had not spent time on a test panel with Wilmore hosting, I could dismiss that claim as a producer puffery.

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