Late night TV is full of overachieving hosts: Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon are locked in a battle for ratings dominance (while Colbert is simultaneously locked in a snark battle with President Trump); Jimmy Kimmel will return to host the 2018 Oscars (despite this year’s controversial telecast); and James Corden is apparently trying to become the third-busiest man in showbiz behind Ryan Seacrest and Chris Hardwick.
In addition to hosting this year’s Grammys — and next year’s, for that matter — Corden has a number of high profile TV shows (one for Snapchat, no less!) and movies in the works, all with varying degrees of buzz. But while Seacrest and Hardwick have crossed from ubiquity into full-blown overexposure, Corden has managed to avoid that air of omnipresence that makes his rivals seem like they’d show up to a door opening.
Whether Corden can maintain his packed dance card without wearing out his welcome (or his shoes) remains to be seen, but striking the balance between actor, host and super-producer could prove even more challenging than facing Riz Ahmed in a rap battle without crying. Here’s a look at what the host with the most is up to in the next year.
The Late Late Show
Corden replaced previous Late Late host Craig Ferguson in March 2015, and while his ratings can’t match the likes of his CBS lead-in Colbert (per Variety, Corden’s 12:35 a.m. show regularly ranks third in his timeslot against Late Night with Seth Meyers and Nightline, averaging a 0.3 rating in adults 18-49), the British thesp definitely knows how to create digital waves.
His recurring segments, including Carpool Karaoke and Drop the Mic (both of which have been expanded into full shows for other networks), frequently go viral, and the show’s YouTube channel has racked up over 2 billion views and 10 million subscribers to date.
Corden leaves the political commentary to the likes of Colbert and Meyers, which robs the broadcast of some nightly urgency, but even if his skits aren’t exactly appointment television, there’s no denying the seismic appeal of each new Carpool Karaoke installment. Adele’s appearance alone has earned more than 159 million views on YouTube, easily outpacing Jimmy Fallon’s biggest Tonight Show video (91 million views), which features Ariana Grande performing musical impressions of other artists.
Next week, Corden will broadcast The Late Late Show from London with a star-studded roster of guests including Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, David Beckham, Harry Styles and Game of Thrones star Kit Harington — along with a new Carpool Karaoke from Ed Sheeran that’s sure to break the internet. Ratings aren’t everything, kids.
Corden’s new Late Late Show spinoff series comes courtesy of Apple Music, marking the streaming music service’s first foray into original programming. The show’s premiere has been delayed twice without explanation, and will now debut August 8. The first season consists of 16 episodes, each 30 minutes long, which will roll out every Tuesday for Apple Music subscribers.
Unlike the Late Late Show segment (which isn’t going anywhere, so don’t panic), the series won’t rely on Corden’s hosting skills (except in a pairing with Will Smith) and will instead enlist celebrities to interview each other between bouts of singing, visiting local sights and surprising random members of the public.
Some of the pairings do seem pretty genius — John Cena and Shaq should be a riot, and we’re intrigued to see what Ariana Grande and Seth MacFarlane talk about — but you can’t help but wonder whether the concept will be half as charming without Corden’s gleefully geeky energy paired against a music icon’s polish.
Drop the Mic
Probably hoping to become the next Lip Sync Battle, TBS’ Drop the Mic series will pit four stars from the worlds of entertainment, music, sports and pop culture against each other in a rap battle royale hosted by Method Man and Hailey Baldwin. The show was initially slated for a May 2 premiere, but has been pushed back to fall, where it should receive a bigger promotional launchpad.
Corden is on board as an executive producer but isn’t expected to appear on screen, which is a good way to guard against overexposure — but similar to Carpool Karaoke, a lot of what makes the segment successful on Late Late is Corden’s chemistry with his guests. Plus, it’s a lot easier to respectably lip sync a song than it is to impress an audience with a rap battle; will the celebrity contestants be up to the task? They can’t all be Dave Franco.
James Corden’s Next James Corden
Corden’s latest project is a satirical short-form series for Snapchat Shows — the social network’s growing roster of original programming on Discover. In it, Corden will appear as “himself” as he searches for someone to take over for him at The Late Late Show, putting a group of young potential successors through their paces in what sounds like a spoof of reality competition shows like America’s Next Top Model.
Because of Corden’s digital prowess and Snapchat’s willingness to experiment with the new format, this has the potential to play right to Corden’s strengths and cater perfectly to his young, tech-savvy audience — we can’t wait to see what they come up with.
A League of Their Own
Corden continues to host this long-running sports-based game show in the UK, which begins airing a new season across the pond on June 5 (although it’s unlikely to hit our screens stateside). This year, Corden is bringing his British buddies, actor Jack Whitehall, footballer Jamie Redknapp and cricket player Freddie Flintoff, to the US for another road trip — and since these blokes are Corden’s longtime friends and knew him before he made it big in Hollywood, viewers get to see a different side of the host when he’s goofing around with them.
The Emoji Movie
Corden is lending his voice to the personification of the high-five emoji in July’s feature film, where he’ll play sidekick to T.J. Miller’s Gene (aka “Meh”). It could be charming, or it could be a pile of 💩 — we’re not convinced by the trailer.
Corden gets top billing in this adaptation of the beloved children’s books, voicing the titular bunny opposite Daisy Ridley and Domhnall Gleeson. It’s not slated for release until February 2018 and we’ve yet to see a trailer, so the jury’s still out on whether it will end up being whimsical like Paddington or a Smurfs-style stinker.
Corden’s a supporting player in next summer’s lady-powered revival starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway, Awkwafina and Helena Bonham Carter. He’ll play an insurance investigator who grows suspicious of the group after their heist, but let’s be honest, no one’s buying tickets to see him with a callsheet like this. (No offense, James.)
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2
We know absolutely nothing about Corden’s role in the Wreck-It Ralph sequel, but if the Disney flick is even half as adorable as the first, we’re on board.
The Late Late Show with James Corden airs weeknights at 12:35 a.m. on CBS.