Plus, he and fellow executive producers Ben Winston and Rob Crabbe discuss signature bits from the 'Late Late Show'

By C. Molly Smith
March 23, 2017 at 08:42 AM EDT
Terence Patrick/CBS

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James Corden said he found the criticism Jimmy Fallon received after the Tonight Show host’s infamous Donald Trump interview last year to be “really unfair.”

Speaking at the PaleyFest on Wednesday, the Late Late Show host noted that Trump went on a lot of talk shows as a candidate for president. “There was the thing that happened with Jimmy Fallon and he got quite a lot of criticism,” Corden said. “I felt that was really unfair because I don’t think anyone asked him the right questions.”

Fallon was criticized for his Trump interview, which included the host tousling the then-candidate’s hair but avoiding questions about his inflammatory campaign rhetoric. In response to the uproar, Fallon told a TMZ cameraperson, “I mean, have you seen my show? … I’m never too hard on anyone.”

Corden did not interview Trump last year but did have a strategy in place had Trump decided to appear. “When he was running for president, he didn’t stop by our show, but I felt like we had the absolute game to play with Donald Trump,” Corded explained. “The game I wanted to play if he came on the show was called ‘Stand By It or Take It Back.’ I would read Donald Trump things that he had said on the campaign trail. I would say, [he’d] have two paddles, you can stand by it or take it back. If you take it back, you take it back forever. If you stand by it, you’ve got to tell me why, and I felt like that was such a good game.”

But despite the plans he had for Trump, Corden doesn’t think The Late Late Show is a “political show.” But, he added, “we’re definitely not not a political show.” Rather, while Trump comes up on the program almost every night, they pick and choose their moments to turn up the heat — like with “James Corden’s Post-Ban Trip Through LAX” video.

“When we take swings, you will absolutely know where we stand.”

Corden discussed more than just Trump at the PaleyFest on Wednesday. In a panel at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre and moderated by Bradley Whitford, Corden (host, executive producer), Ben Winston (executive producer), and Rob Crabbe (also, an executive producer) gave a number of behind-the-scenes stories from signature segments. Here are the highlights:


It’s hard to imagine musicians saying no to “Carpool Karaoke,” Corden’s viral sensation that has even landed its own series, but that was the case in the beginning. For perspective, Corden tried a little exercise with the crowd. “Think of a recording artist, everyone in this room just in your minds. Just think of a recording artist, put one in your head, see them, think of their name. Everyone got one? They said no.” But, they finally scored that first guest. “God bless Mariah Carey,” Corden said. In the time since that first “Carpool Karaoke,” Adele, Elton John, Bruno Mars, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and so many others have followed Carey’s lead (see them, here). But who could be next? Ahead of the panel, Corden, Winston, and Crabbe told EW that Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Paul McCartney, and Beyoncé are at the top of their wish list for future guests. “I don’t think we’re going to get her for a long time,” Winston joked of Beyoncé. “It’s very inconvenient that she wants to give birth before she does it. It’s quite selfish.”


Speaking of Late Late Show segments that landed series, Winston said that Drop the Mic filmed its first episode the other day. “It’s just got all the joy of comedy roasts, but [it’s] less nasty.” The group also recalled the origins of the new project and looked back to when David Schwimmer participated. After seeing Anne Hathaway doing it, Schwimmer put his hat in the ring. “He called the office and said ‘I saw what you did with Anne Hathaway. I want to do that myself,’” Winston recalled. “We never do a bit two days later, but if David Schwimmer is calling and he’s written his own raps we’re like, ‘Sure.’” Corden’s reaction upon first seeing the raps: “Right, it’s going to be a bloodbath.”


In Tom Cruise’s role call video, the star and Corden acted out the famous “Show me the money!” scene from Jerry Maguire. Corden assumed Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s role as Rod Tidwell and yelled the famous lines, just in time for Gooding to hear him and do the line himself. But what appeared to be a reunion between costars was actually the product of TV magic. “We shot the Cuba Gooding side before we ever booked Tom Cruise,” Corden revealed. “We were like, at some point Tom Cruise is going to come on this show and we’re going to beg and beg and beg for him to do role call because he has just such an incredible career and Cuba Gooding’s here on this Tuesday and this will be an amazing moment, so let’s just shoot this half of it.” They shot about 9 months before Cruise came on, but Winston confessed to telling Cuba that Cruise would be doing it in a “couple weeks” when asked.


Beauty and the Beast is the latest musical to get the crosswalk treatment and star Josh Gad, who was joined by Dan Stevens and Luke Evans in the bit, had some feelings about what went into crafting the segment. “Josh Gad told us afterward, he’d seen all the crosswalk musicals and thought that it was a camera trick,” Crabbe said. “He didn’t know it was actually in the street. He showed up and was terrified. He couldn’t believe the rage of the drivers as well.” Corden recalled being chastised by a policeman while shooting, he believed, the Phantom of the Opera crosswalk musical. “I kept running out to the cars like ‘They want more!’ and bowing…There was a policeman there and he just came over and went ‘James, if you do that again, you’ll never be allowed to film here ever again’ and I went, ‘But they love me!’”

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The Late Late Shows airs weeknights at 12:37 a.m. E.T. on CBS.

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