Late-Night Network Shows Still a White Men’s Club

Lynn Elber, AP, April 6, 2013

The role of female talk show hosts in late-night TV broadcast network history, all 50-plus years of it, can be summed up in two words: Joan Rivers. It takes just another two—Arsenio Hall—to do the same for minorities.

There’s no indication that’s going to change in the latest round of musical chairs involving “Tonight” and “Late Night.” All the NBC, ABC and CBS showcase jobs at 11:30 p.m. Eastern and later appear likely to remain securely in white men’s hands.

Jay Leno is handing off to Jimmy Fallon, with speculation tagging Seth Meyers as his likely successor. Meanwhile, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson and Carson Daly are sitting pretty, without the faintest drumbeat of a pair of advancing high heels to signal a threat.

There have been alternatives bandied about—Chelsea Handler, black comedian-writer Aisha Tyler—but no hints they or others are getting traction.


NBC did not respond to requests for comment on the issue. But if belles du jour Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can excel at TV sitcoms and movies and teach Ricky Gervais a thing or two (or three) about hosting the Golden Globes, could they be queens of the night with their own talk shows? Or maybe a Hispanic or Asian-American man could have a turn. {snip}


Rivers, who became host of Fox’s “The Late Show” in 1986 after filling in as the sole regular guest host on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight,” calls the lack of female hosts “beyond” frustrating.

Blame the broadcast industry’s resistance toward change and the risk of failure, she said: “Everybody is running so scared, and has always run scared.”

And executives can find reasons, or excuses, for keeping the status quo.

“They had surveys at NBC, and the surveys were that women would rather watch a man at night, which is what they’re always throwing up in your face,” Rivers said.


It’s true that women make up a majority of the audience for every network late-night show. ABC’s Kimmel, for instance, is averaging 1.4 million female viewers and 770,000 male viewers this season, while Leno is watched by 1.9 million women and 1.5 million men, according to Nielsen Co. ratings.


The networks have other reasons to reconsider their white-guys-only strategy, according to an analysis of Nielsen data: They are losing out on minority viewers, Hispanics in particular.

Of the total 3.44 million viewers averaged by “Tonight” for the season through March 24, there were 188,000 Hispanics. That’s about 5 percent of the total audience, compared to the nearly 17 percent Latino slice of the U.S. population.

The other late-night shows show similar degrees of disconnect with Hispanics, although some can boast healthy black viewership.


TBS turned to an established comic in 2010 when it launched “The George Lopez Show.” But when Lopez was bumped back an hour to midnight to make way for O’Brien’s post-“Tonight” effort, ratings fell and Lopez got a pink slip. He had averaged 910,000 viewers at 11 p.m. Eastern; so far this season, O’Brien is averaging just under 600,000—and just earned a renewal through 2015.

Lopez is canceled, Wanda Sykes loses her low-rated Saturday night Fox show, and it gives networks an out, said UCLA’s Hunt: “They’ll point to the example of the cautionary tale as to why diversity is not a good thing for the bottom line.”


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  • dd121

    Who cares. If a woman/black doesn’t host one of those shows is the sun going to supernova?

    • The__Bobster

      If a woman/black does host one of those shows, I’m going to go supernova.

      • Oil Can Harry

        Women are to stand-up comedy what dwarves are to the NBA.

        I once stumbled onto Chelsea Handler’s show but had to turn after five minutes. She’s a whining f*g-hag who surrounds herself with effeminate flamers.

        • me

          And don’t forget Chelsea Handler’s “pet Mexican dwarf Chewie”, as she calls him…ugh! Handler has the appeal of a sack of rotting, used baby diapers.

        • capnmorgan5150

          Agreed. I’ve always loathed female comedians. They just come off as gross.

  • Speaking of, Fox is going to give Arsenio Hall another stab at late night.

    • Oil Can Harry

      The funniest thing about the original Arsenio show was his sycophantic, butt-smooching black studio audience. Every night they set new records for buffoonery.

      • I vote for the “ook ook ook” chanting and fist-waving that the audience did when he came on stage. They tell us not to engage in stereotypes then turn right around and validate stereotypes in a matter of 30 seconds to a minute. Even his white w-word fans did that. Start at about 1:00 in this video.

        • TheAntidote

          Yes, I forgot about the ook, ook, ook. It didn’t draw comparisons with chimpanzee behaviour, but I remember one evening when he did chimp out big time.
          He happened to have on Crocodile Dundee when audience question time came up. A homosexual asked Hall why there had never been any homosexuals on as guests. Hall went wild; enraged that the questioner had dared to ask the question, and perhaps feeling he didn’t want to share victim status with anyone else, he stated screaming, “Ah am the biggest minority there is!!!” He wouldn’t let it go. Kept it up all night.

          • Oil Can Harry

            When Arsenio was asked why he didn’t have gays on his program he should have replied “What about Eddie Murphy?”

            “And myself?”

        • rebelcelt

          You articulated my thoughts perfectly. Whites are turned off by such stupidity. Jus keepin it real, know whata mean?

  • joegoofinoff

    Blacks and women have nothing to say past silly jibberish. Not nearly enough to hold a somewhat sophisticated audience of that time of day.

    • Sexistracist Pigs

      racism and sexism are diseases.

      • Fact Check

        Nah, just the facts. It’s not our fault blacks and women can’t create successful networks and TV shows. Nobody is stopping them, but yet they still can’t do it on their own.

        Bake your own pie if you want a piece of it !

    • me

      Letterman, Kimmel, Leno, Fallon, and O Brien have somewhat ‘sophisticated’ audiences? LOL! The sophomoric humor is what makes them charming. If you want ‘sophistication’, you’d have to hire a boring old Englishman like Bill Nighy. LOL! Of course, they, and their audience, are more ‘sophisticated’ than Springer or Povich.

      • I was partial to Irish comedian Dave Allen.

        • David Ashton

          He was an aggressively persistent anti-Catholic but who cared?

          Does Jerry Springer make fun of Jews?

          • capnmorgan5150

            He was an Atheist, actually.

          • Who cares? He was hilarious. Curiously, I was put onto Dave Allen by an Irish Catholic who converted to Protestantism.

          • capnmorgan5150

            I agree he was hilarious. I used to watch his show with my dad when I was a kid. I was just pointing that out for anyone who didn’t know. At the risk of being chastised by the entire board, I’m an Atheist too.

          • Unperson

            I, a (lapsed) Anglo Protestant, was put onto him by an Irish (lapsed) Catholic girlfriend. She learned to like my Monty Python, I learned to like her Dave Allen. I still remember a couple of his jokes that I literally haven’t heard in three decades.

            From what I remember, Dave Allen was what you might call an equal-opportunity offender: he made fun of religion, authority, etc, yes, but in a fair-minded, non-partisan way. Wiki seems to agree with me on this:

            In his home nation of Ireland, however, he always remained somewhat controversial because of his mocking of the Catholic Church, and in Northern Ireland because of his mocking of the Protestant Ian Paisley

            Something for everyone, then. I also remember Allen’s comedy style as being good-natured and never gratuitously nasty like so much of today’s standup. A gentle ribbing, not a vindictive skewering. In the best Irish tradition.

          • capnmorgan5150

            Agreed. He always used to say at the end of the show, “May your God go with you”. Awesome.

  • So CAL Snowman

    “Of the total 3.44 million viewers averaged by “Tonight” for the season
    through March 24, there were 188,000 Hispanics. That’s about 5 percent
    of the total audience, compared to the nearly 17 percent Latino slice of
    the U.S. population.”

    So let me get this logic straight : Instead of catering to the majority White population and at risk of alienating this core audience, the networks should promote a brown Hispanic in order to capture more of that 17% Latino slice of the pie?

    And the lefties wonder why we consider liberalism a mental disorder.

    • Yep let’s chase 17% …… at the cost of 83%. Might as well do it in Spanish too.

    • me

      The ‘Latinos’ have their own Univision, their own Showtime Espanol, and other channels. The Blacks have VHI, MTV, BET, and other channels. They don’t need more tv or movie time–these minorities are already overrepresented according to population. Heaven forbid that White people can have any tv show or movie that doesn’t have a minority in it. What’s going to make me loose it is if they have a Black James Bond….I mean, come on!!! REDICULOUS!

  • Why didn’t the “Tonight Show” hire Wendy Williams. Then they could capture the overweight bob-bon eaters and homosexuals, plus, maybe even a black or two.

    As a gift to her self for getting the job, she could have had her basketballs removed and had watermeons implanted.

    • I think the Wendy Williams Show is the dead on epicenter of the low information undertow.
      I was in a situation several weeks back when I was pretty much forced to watch it. I could feel my brain cells dying.
      And also…woot woot.

  • MikeS

    “Late Night Network Shows Still a White Man’s Club.”
    Hey, you stick to what works.

  • APaige

    Magic Johnson hosted a late night talk show? It was so bad people just want to forget. Daytime talk shows are mostly woman.

  • e2734298

    Are they saying that people want to watch celebrities of their own race? Doesn’t that prove OUR point?

  • The__Bobster

    Jimmy Fallon? Carson Daly? The shows for those two are so African that they don’t need Zulu hosts.

    The other “White ” guys are Obongo arse-kissers.

    • sbuffalonative

      I don’t watch it but isn’t Leno’s band all, or majority black?

      • The__Bobster

        Yes, but Fallon’s band is far worse. It’s full of cRappers. Leno’s band can at least play decent music.

  • bigone4u

    Women comedians that I am familiar with tend to be nasty and boorish. Roseanne was an example. While her standup routines were amusing, her uncouthness made her a poor choice for hostessing a show. Black male comics are also disgusting in their language and attitudes. Hispanics have their own networks on cable why would a network want to go that route?
    Are white male hosts proof of racism and misogyny? Not at all. White men are rather likeable, no matter what the libtards claim. Get it, libtards? There is no group of people more likeable than whites, in spite of your efforts to demonize us with white privilege and white guilt. So, if you insist on minority hosts, stick em on MSNBC.

    • sbuffalonative

      Yes, white male hosts appeal to middle American sensibilities. None of these shows wants to be ground breaking for all the wrong reasons.

      Any black or Hispanic (why not Asian) host would have to act white to appeal to middle America. Blacks wouldn’t watch for very long because whiteish humor doesn’t appeal them.

    • GeneticsareDestiny

      I agree, white men are definitely the most enjoyable comedians to watch. And since they’re the ones who get the best ratings, it would seem that most of America agrees with us as well.

      So why in the world do liberals keep telling everyone to kill the golden goose and put up blacks and minorities in their place, instantly killing ratings? It’s got to be a form of psychosis.

    • saxonsun

      Rosanne had an excellent joke: “I don’t know why lesbians hate men, they don’t have to f**k them?”

  • LastBastionOfHope

    Again we get back to the fact that blacks want 100% of the power but forget they are 14% of the nation. Their egos have skyrocketed due to affirmative action, white guilt liberals teaching their victimhood, and other people absolving them of any blame. Now they believe they really SHOULD represent just as much as white people if not more regardless of their minority status. To be 100% represented let’s say at a party with 100 people, 14 would need to be black. 14/100…that’s a number they would be throwing fits over saying it’s not fair how is there only 14 of us in a place with 100 people?! Little do they know, statistics prove them to be morons.

  • sbuffalonative

    They had Arsenio Hall. Lots of hype. No one cared. The show was cancelled.

    Woop woop woop woop woop.

  • Rhialto

    This is a good example of TFA (typical feminist attitude): White men are morally obligated to consider the welfare of women, while women are at best indifferent to white male welfare. By the way there are 3 networks that specialize in the female demographic: WE, LIFE, and Oxygen. If there was a profitable demand for female hosted talk shows at that time, I’m sure they would exist. They certainly exist in the daytime period.

    Please excuse Joan Rivers attitude. She was a great stand up comedian, who was seldom equalled, but age has softened her brain.

  • There are plenty of amateur comediennes I’ve watched, and some are quite good. The problems are that many of them peak early and low, or cater to esoteric niche audiences. For example, if you’re not an overweight, coarse, angry lesbian with only the most limited sort of intellect, Roseanne just doesn’t seem funny. When major networks look for a late-night host, they want someone with the broadest possible appeal because viewer numbers are what the networks use to justify the rates they charge for advertising time.

    Ah, yes: economics. The fact is that television networks need to make money in order to continue operating, and however much the whiny left hates economic reality, it always bounces back on them like an inflatable punching toy, with the same annoying grin on its face.

    I personally think men are funnier, and there is probably a biological reason for this. Men don’t get pregnant, so they never quite have to develop the sense of seriousness that many – perhaps even most – women do. Most of us guys retain a strong element of impish childishness quite late into life.

  • Paleoconn

    I believe George Lopez railed against Whites when his show was axed. It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with ratings. I supposed the crackers who run Hollywood should air a mestizo show even when nobody is watching it. To do otherwise is clearly racism.

    • IstvanIN

      George Lopez is a racist and an America hater.

      • Lygeia

        Cheated on his wife too. After she let surgeons open her up so she could donate one of her kidneys to him. She should have asked for it back in the divorce settlement.

    • And Univision didn’t pick the talentless hack up.

    • The__Bobster

      Crackers don’t run Hollywood.

      • Paleoconn

        I know Bobster

  • StillModerated

    I murdered my TV set! It’s only used for watching DVDs.

    • Now that you’ve done that, do you have a copy of “Talvisota” on DVD? It is a very white war movie in a very white setting.

  • Truth

    What is it called when you spend your entire life hating what you want to be? Envy?

  • Richard

    They should have James Earl Jones reading “Goodnight Moon.” Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep and this might help.

  • LHathaway

    Late night emcee’s do kind of make a white man’s club. A white man’s club that treats women and people of color with the utmost reverance and where making fun of conservative whites is nearly the premise of the show. There are several TV shows dedicated to Nothing but that, such as the Colbert Report and Jon Stewart show although many sit-coms seem based on this idea as well.