Versatile entertainer Arsenio Hall dishes on his new TV show, when "Coming to America 2" might hit theaters, and what he enjoyed about his second him hosting his talk show
Raised a preacher’s son, comedian/actor Arsenio Hall is going back to his roots this fall, guest starring as a clergyman in the new ABC comedy, “The Mayor,” premiering Oct. 3.
But before Hall can crack up audiences in the show’s first episode, he’ll first be splitting sides in his Delaware debut, delivering laughs at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino on Friday.
Hall is a versatile and accomplished entertainer who became a household name as the late-night host of the Emmy Award-winning “The Arsenio Hall Show,” which ran for five seasons through 1994. The show returned for one more season in 2013.
The entertainer’s resume includes acting credits in the epic comedy “Coming to America” (1988) and the blaxploitation spoof “Black Dynamite” (2009).
What can you tell us about “The Mayor?”
This young man [starring in it] is a little older than my son and plays a rapper, who on a fluke became mayor, which I think is so incredibly current, considering we have an outsider in the White House; and we have people like Kanye and Kid Rock saying they want to live at the White House. I don’t know if they’ve been to the White House, but Kanye’s house and Kid Rock’s house are actually nicer than the White House. So they should think about that.
What do you know about Delaware?
I just learned how to spell it. You know how you start to write Delaware and your iPhone corrects you [laughs]? Basically, I don’t know a lot. But somebody told me to make sure I eat out a lot, because the cuisine in Delaware is unique. I don’t know what that means, but I love to eat, so I’m coming.
You ever had something called scrapple?
I don’t know what that is. I don’t know if that’s something Scooby-Doo made up. What is scrapple?
It’s made from pig, but the texture is like ground beef.
My girlfriend told me I would like it, because my people are from the south and they make something called hog head cheese. They told me I would like scrapple.
“Is Coming To America 2” going to happen?
I’ve got a feeling it’s finally about to happen. In all fairness to Paramount, Eddie [Murphy] is the one who didn’t want to do “Coming to America 2,” because it’s one his favorites. He loves it. It’s like his baby and he’s always said, “I don’t want to do some rehash jokes so they can make some money on a ‘Coming to America’ sequel. But if they want to put the money down and get writers,” because it’s all about stories. You know, you’re a writer.
It’s all about script. It’s all about story. And you can’t do rehashed jokes in the second one. We’ve seen how people bastardized sequels and he really, really cares; and he doesn’t want to disappoint his fans.
How soon do you think we’ll see it in theaters?
I saw some paperwork and I don’t know if it was ambitious or premature, but it was talking about the first six months of next year.
When you brought back “The Arsenio Hall Show,” did you enjoy it more than when you first introduced it in the '90s?
I was happy because I got one more year to have a platform for the last Dick Gregory late-night performance, for the last Prince late-night performance. I remember Maya Angelou said, “I can’t come, baby. But please can I call in?” I’m like, “CNN does it. Why can’t I do it [laughs]?” From her bed, while she was too ill to leave, she said, “I’m going to be on your second show.”
We called Maya Angelou, which turned out to be one of the last times I saw her, or she had a presence publicly, before she passed away.
Even in that one year of coming back, I look at all these little things that went down and that’s what I loved most about coming back to it. That’s what I missed most, because I’m always going to do my thing. I’m always going to get mine.
But there needs to be a place like that. I was talking to Russell Simmons the other day. The reason he’s bringing Def Jam back is because there’s a lot more Nubian talent in the world than commercial TV has space for. I loved being the guy that was able to do that. In that sense, it was equally exciting the second time.