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'Late Late Show’s Corden Strives to Connect With Viewers as Letterman Does

West Hollywood, Calif. — James Corden, the English host of CBS’ Late Late Show, was not familiar with David Letterman and his Late Show when he arrived in the U.S. for the first time in 2006.

“I didn’t know about this phenomenon, this trope of television,” Corden said Monday at a CBS press event at The London Hotel in West Hollywood, Calif.

Performing in History Boys on Broadway, Corden said he was homesick after about 15 months of touring. After the shows, the cast would go out but Corden would head back to his “awful” apartment. He would get in bed, turn on the television and watch Letterman. “I’d feel this connection,” Corden said. “It suddenly became clear to me the power of late night hosts, that you’re checking in with a friend ... I’d look forward to what this guy was going to do.”

That connection with viewers is what Corden is striving for with The Late Late Show, which launched two months ago in the post-Late Show time slot.

Corden and his team said they want viewers to see people on the show having a good time. “It’s not our job really to come out and skewer politicians,” said Corden. “It’s a place where you can check in and have a great time ... We’ll often talk about fun before funny.”

Driving around in cars with famous people has admittedly been “thrilling” for Corden, who added that they talk about the show "in terms of atmosphere and feeling" not bits and segments.

Guests come out at the same time instead of individually. Rather than one-on-one interviews with recycled stories and rehearsed conversation, executive producer Ben Winston said having Corden and his guests all together is like eavesdropping at their dinner party. “It immediately leads to spontaneity you don’t see elsewhere,” Winston said.

With the multitude of ways to watch TV, executive producer Rob Crabbe said they strive for relevance. “If something can play well at 12:37 a.m., it can play well at 12:37 p.m. watching at your lunch break,” he said.

And for viewers watching at the end of the day, Corden just wants them to see a friendly face.