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Oprah Winfrey and Arsenio Hall  (Photo Credit: © Harpo Studios, Inc. / George Burns)

Los Angeles, CA – Oprah Winfrey sits down with late-night talk show host Arsenio Hall on an all-new episode of “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” airing  Sunday, October 20 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. 


In the episode, Oprah catches up with Arsenio Hall for an in-depth conversation about his return to late-night TV after nearly 20 years.  Filmed at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, Arsenio talks about the significance of being one of the only African-American hosts in late-night today and what he has learned in the two decades away from the spotlight. He shares the reason behind his move to L.A. as a young comic and the professional advice he has received from late-night TV host and friendly rival Jay Leno. Arsenio also discusses knowing he was meant to make people laugh, how his comedy was shaped by his Baptist minister father, the importance of being a hands-on single dad and his relationship with his son today. 

EXCERPT: Michael Jackson on Arsenio Hall's Talk Show: "You Should Have Never Left"

OPRAH:  Tell me how nervous you were about coming back.

ARSENIO: I was a little nervous because it took me so long to get to the moment. It was a very hard idea to sell. 

OPRAH:  Mm-hmm.

ARSENIO:  But I went everywhere with this.

OPRAH: Really? So how long was the process of trying to get people to notice, trying to get people to say yes, and then finally a yes came from CBS?

ARSENIO: Gosh, it could have been about five years.

OPRAH:  Five years?

ARSENIO:  Yeah.  And here's the first yes I got or kind of a yes.

OPRAH:  Five years?

ARSENIO:  Yes.  Yes.

OPRAH:  Wow.  This is so interesting.  So for five years, five years ago you first started thinking about coming back.

ARSENIO:  Can I tell you what was going on to tell you how long ago it was?

OPRAH:  Yeah, tell me, yeah.

ARSENIO:  I'm on the tennis court of Ron Burkle's estate.  The Ralph's Supermarket magnate.

OPRAH:  Yeah.

ARSENIO:  And Michael Jackson is sitting there and Diddy and Vivica Fox and a bunch of people are here.  One of those parties.

OPRAH:  Yeah.

ARSENIO:  And when Diddy gives a party, he holds the microphone so he can do stuff all night. He's holding the microphone and Diddy said you've got to come back.  And I'm like, I want to.  But it ain't that easy.  And the reason I bring up Michael's name because Michael's gone now and that's how long it's been.  Michael was there the night we partied to it.

OPRAH:  And did Michael also tell you to come back?


OPRAH:  Yeah.

ARSENIO:  Michael was like, you should have never left.  And I -- I know he's watching.

EXCERPT: Arsenio Hall on the Late-Night Wars

OPRAH:  This is what’s also interesting, that you were just on Letterman, recently, before your show started.  So everybody talks about the late-night wars.  But you're friends with Jay Leno. You were just on Letterman.  Letterman had you on the show knowing you were gonna be a competitor.

ARSENIO:  And he joked about it.  And you know what?  Jay is my friend.  But Dave is a huge influence on me. He was one of my heroes.  And to know that he didn't hate me and invited me to announce my show that would overlap his by a half hour was a great honor.

OPRAH:  Yeah.

ARSENIO:  Because, by the way, Dave comes off as really gruff.  Dave comes off as a guy who don't like a lot of people.

OPRAH:  Yeah.

ARSENIO:  And for him to honor me and let me come to the Ed Sullivan Theater and all that kind of stuff, it was very special. And I think in the early years, as young men, we were a little desperate.  Now you do your job and you do the best you can do. For us, just do your thing.

EXCERPT: The Day Arsenio Hall’s Son Realized His Dad Was Famous

OPRAH: And so what does it feel like now to be back and in the groove?

ARSENIO:  It feels like an incredible blessing.  If it doesn't go another day, I'll be happy. First of all because one of the things that was important to me was to let my son see this.

OPRAH:  Yeah.

ARSENIO:  You know, my son was going to a school where him and Jaden Smith and Willow Smith.

OPRAH:  Uh-huh.

ARSENIO:  Will's kids would hang out. And my son said the first day of school, because Will's -- Will owned the school, by the way.  And Will made a speech the first day and he said something to me standing back with all the parents.  Some joke.

OPRAH:  Mm-hmm.

ARSENIO:  And my son said, dad, how does Will Smith know you?  And I took him home and showed him Will performing parents just don't understand on the show.  I think until that point my son -- I had been telling him I was a doctor or something. I don't know.  I didn't want him no where near show business.  I never really talked about what daddy does. Daddy makes people laugh. And people bark at daddy in the mall.  That's all he knew, you know.

OPRAH:  (Laughter.) And they still did, right?  All those years, they would still bark in the mall.

ARSENIO:  Yeah. 

About Oprah’s Next Chapter:

“Oprah’s Next Chapter” is the award-winning primetime series featuring Oprah Winfrey as she steps outside of the studio for riveting, enlightening and in-depth conversations with newsmakers, celebrities, thought leaders and real-life families. “Oprah’s Next Chapter” is produced by Harpo Studios.  Join the conversation on Twitter using #NextChapter






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