Postcard from Los Angeles, #3: Hanging at The Late, Late Show

Postcard from Los Angeles, #3: Hanging at The Late, Late Show

These are great times to be a Brit in LA.

Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge – who was at MUSEXPO yesterday to hand out a gong to Monte and Avery Lipman – is the world’s leading music executive, with Rob Stringer CEO at Sony and Max Lousada soon to take on a top job at Warner. British actors are cleaning up in Hollywood. And everywhere you go in the city of angels’ music business you find exiled UK citizens doing very nicely for themselves, thank you.

But perhaps the pre-eminent example of the current British invasion is to be found on week nights at CBS Television City. James Corden, the erstwhile Gavin & Stacey star and former BRIT Awards host, has become a genuine phenomenon – not to mention perhaps the world’s most influential music tastemaker thanks to Carpool Karaoke – as host of The Late, Late Show. 

And, going to see the show live with another British ex-pat who’s killing it in LA – former NME deputy editor Eve Barlow, now a superstar freelance writer over here – it’s not hard to see why. As with all US TV shows, a jovial hypeman (another Brit, would you believe) is employed to whip the crowd into a frenzy but in LLS’ case, it barely seems necessary. There is so much unforced whooping and hollering going on, it’s more like a cross between a rodeo and a One Direction concert than a TV show. And, even on a show that boasts the combined Hollywood star wattage of Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Taylor Schilling and Ryan Adams, the vast majority of that attention is aimed at Corden himself.

In the green room before the show, Corden is an infectiously ebullient presence, chatting enthusiastically about music from Harry Styles’ forthcoming solo album to obscure indie rock recommendations.

On stage, he turns that charm up to 11, bringing Hollywood stars and excitable audience members alike into the Corden universe, where serious gags about White House staffers sit comfortably alongside a goofy song and dance routine about a mystery door that he doesn’t even get to open. Corden’s appointment may have looked like a gamble initially but it’s paid off hugely for him, his UK producers Fulwell ’73 and for CBS, who have a ratings hit and a viral sensation on their hands.

The whole enterprise is super-slick, sure-footed and sends the punters home with sore hands (from all that clapping) and massive smiles on their faces. That may not sound very British, but the man at the centre of it all is and, 35 years after that Chariots Of Fire Oscars speech, the Brits aren’t just coming to Hollywood, they’re here to stay.

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