Kathy Griffin says Late Night TV is dominated by middle-aged white men and is disappointed in CBS’ recent announcement.
According to Examiner, Griffin has revealed that she was told point blank by a TV executive that females won’t be considered for coveted late night hosting spots. Her close friend and mentor, Joan Rivers, was the last female host, which her talk show was eventually cancelled on Fox. Now, decades later, the landscape remains entirely male.
Days after the death of the only woman to host a late-night network show, the status quo was reaffirmed as CBS on Monday anointed Craig Ferguson’s successor: James Corden, a popular British performer, but one largely unknown to American viewers.
Kathy Griffin said Late Night will always be for male hosts:
“I was interested in the Ferguson spot long before it was announced because I had a feeling things might shift … My joke phrase is, ‘I can start Monday.'” The response of one executive to her query: “They’re not considering females at this time.”
“You realize that’s illegal to say in a business meeting?” was Griffin’s comeback.
When she told by another industry exec that the absence of female hosts was “embarrassing” and that women who represent half the population should hold half of such jobs, he had a ready answer: “Well, you have ‘The Talk.'”
That show, of course, is in daytime and has five co-hosts, not one powerful female comedian owning the nighttime stage. The effect, even for a resilient professional like Griffin, is dispiriting.
“I walk into the (meeting) room thinking, ‘I’ll give it a shot.’ I leave the room thinking, ‘I never had a chance,'”
While the rest of TV catches up to diversity, with fictional portrayals daring to imagine women as U.S. presidents and mirror the reality of an African-American leader, networks simply are unwilling to roll the dice on either a female or minority in the lofty position of late-night host.
While Kathy Griffin and Late Night TV won’t happen anytime soon, she is qualified. For one, she’s earned two Emmy Awards (for Bravo’s “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List”) and this year joined the small band of female winners of a Grammy Award for best comedy album (“Calm Down Gurrl”). Griffin is an adroit comedian and savvy enough to fit her edgy comedy into a broadcast mold.
Other names are bandied about, such as Aisha Tyler, but to no avail.
Kathy Griffin worries Late Night TV has sailed for another generation of women. Most late-night hosts are new and on the young side, such as 39-year-old Jimmy Fallon. And based on the track records of Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and David Letterman, turnover is rare.
Indeed, the math looks bleak when the 27 years since Rivers’ show ended are added to perhaps a couple decades more.
“We could be looking at 40 or 50 years until a woman is hosting a network late-night talker,” Griffin said. “Here’s the deal: We’re (screwed).”
Kathy Griffin gives Late Night TV something viewers may want. Griffin is very entertaining and could definitely compete in the market. But the networks won’t even give her a chance.