Nick Cannon is getting a late night TV show on Fox (well, New Fox). The Wild ’N Out creator/host signed a deal with the broadcast network for a weekly topical late-night series that includes a development deal for Fox’s digital team. The yet-to-be-titled project will feature high-profile celebrity interviews, music performances, and stand-up comics with host Cannon covering the latest in pop culture. He will also executive produce.
Fox, the baby brother of the broadcast channels, is the only network without a consistent late night program. Since its creation in 1986, it has tried to find its champion to join the ranks of Late Show and The Tonight Show by developing programs around Chevy Chase (1993), Arsenio Hall (1989-94, then again in 2013), Joan Rivers (1986-87), and Wanda Sykes (2009-10). None had the staying power that could survive interchanging hosts like the programs on NBC, CBS, Comedy Central, and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! The Arsenio Hall Show probably had the most culturally impactful moment with a saxophone performance by then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton. Their existences have escaped the cultural consciousness. None of this is stopping Fox from entering yet another competitor in the crowded late night landscape (fellow late night TV nerds should check out Bill Carter’s books for more on the subject).
Cannon has the broad appeal that a late night host requires to reach both coastal comedy connoisseurs and flyover country comedy fans. He’s already served this role hosting various award shows, America’s Got Talent, and the upcoming celebrity competition series The Masked Singer on Fox, which he will also co-executive produce. It will be difficult breaking into late night, commonly seen as the time slots between 10:00 pm-2:00 am EST, with a new show. Networks get anxious enough relaunching a program with a new host (remember all those annoying James Corden promos?). TBS has been successful cutting through the pack with the Samantha Bee-led rage-fueled Full Frontal. HBO pulled it off when it snagged John Oliver for Last Week Tonight. Both are also weeklies on cable networks with smaller and younger audiences. Cannon, at 38-years old, would be the youngest host attempting to create that crucial viral video that dominates the day’s conversation. With one chance per week to get people talking about you, he faces even more pressure show-to-show.
Not much else is known about the new late night series or when it will air. But at least we know it’s not going to be hosted by another straight white guy.