When The Late Late Show with James Corden signs off on April 27 after eight years, CBS’s George Cheeks will face a big decision. Replace Corden at 12:30 with another late-night talk show, despite the fact that linear ratings have declined to the point where the costs associated with a host-driven, five-night-a-week studio show make less and less sense; do something else (cheaper); or throw in the towel and air reruns or MyPillow infomercials after Colbert. Ben Winston, Corden’s executive producer and a partner in Fulwell73, the television and film production company, fully recognizes that challenge and is hoping to evolve talk shows and live specials for streaming, particularly for the new ad-driven tiers. It’s already happening, he noted on my podcast, The Town, ahead of tonight’s Grammys on CBS, which Winston is executive producing. Netflix is going live with a Chris Rock special and will air the SAG Awards next year, and Fulwell produced an Elton John concert for Disney+. We talked about the future of late night TV and more, and I edited the conversation for length and clarity.
Matt Belloni: The Grammys is said to be one of the most difficult live shows to produce. Why?
Ben Winston: Firstly, you’re on air for three and a half hours. That is a long time to be on TV.