Arsenio Hall is the host of CBS' Star Search, a one-hour variety/talent series inspired by the original Star Search television program.
Over a decade ago, comedian Arsenio Hall was the hottest commodity in the talk-show business. And though it's been a while, Hall is still serving up talent for America. In an interview with NPR's Tavis Smiley, Hall talks about his rise to fame, The Arsenio Hall Show, the projects he's worked on since then, and about his new gig as host of CBS' Star Search series.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Hall says that as a youngster, he imitated entertainers and talk-show hosts to escape his inner-city surroundings. He tells Smiley that he so idolized Johnny Carson that he became an amateur magician for a brief time. After high school, Hall headed to college, where he intended to study law, but ended up majoring in communications. Hall worked his way through college by performing at local comedy clubs.
It wasn't long before he was noticed by Hollywood. After appearing in movies such as Coming to America with Eddie Murphy and Harlem Knights with Richard Pryor, Hall became known for his versatility and for the wide range of characters that he brought to life.
In 1989, Hall opened The Arsenio Hall Show, which quickly rose to the top in ratings. Hall tells Smiley the show's popularity was due to booking guests the industry deemed as "chancy." Hall says he wanted to give exposure to talented artists that were often overlooked within the industry.