The appearance of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan was highly controversial due to remarks by Farrakhan that many felt were anti-Semitic and homophobic. Protests from Jewish and gay groups pressured Hall to cancel Farrakhan's appearance but Hall adamantly refused. Hall agreed to feature pre-taped segments featuring opposing viewpoints but he did not air any of them. Some affiliates put a disclaimer before the episode warning viewers. The furor over this episode was a major reason why Hall and Paramount decided not to renew his contract. See more »
I admit I have fond memories of the Arsenio Hall show and was a devout viewer, but that was when he first came out and skyrocketed to instant popularity. He was a major hype of the times, an icon for bringing a new, hip and refreshing format to the talk show industry, and checking out his show seemed like the "in" thing to do.
There were funny and memorable moments, like the time Kurt Russell was a guest and a song from an album he recorded as a child star suddenly started blaring on the studio speakers. There were also Arsenio's merciless digs at Roseanne Barr during his opening monologue, most of which were pretty funny. There was also Madonna's hyped up and much publicized appearance (back when she was at a superstar zenith), and after the applause died down and the 'talk' began, all she basically did was throw questions back at him about his alleged romance with Paula Abdul.
Arsenio seemed to revel in his own success too, like showing a clip from "Ghost" where Whoopi Goldberg mentions to two co-stars that his show was on. Or taking note of the news item where a guy got outraged and violent after other people in his household wouldn't let him watch the show.
Yeah, The Arsenio Hall show was a product of the times, unfortunately time wasn't too kind and before long, the fad started to wear out. My interest started to wane in '91 when things weren't making such an impact anymore. Even another appearance from Madonna didn't liven things up. She, looking pale and curiously waxen faced, merely sat quietly while her then-friend Rosie O'Donnell obnoxiously hogged up all the attention.
Yes, Arsenio was a great show, but only at the beginning, afterwards, it became a passing fancy, much like the "Help, I've fallen and can't get up!" commercial and the "Twin Peaks" TV series.
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