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 have to agree with everyone else that the first two years (1989 & 1990) were Arsenio's prime years. I used to watch it when I was younger and got a huge kick out of it. I actually have many of the wrestling interviews on tape he did (The ones with Ted DiBiase and Bobby Heenan stick out in my mind). But of course there was the constant brownnosing on the guests. Arsenio had a great interview technique, he just did too much kissing up. It's a bad habit that has followed him into other shows. It only appealed to a certain populi of the United States (Older people watched Carson, college kids watched Dave, people in the know watched Nightline, etc.). Then came 1992 when New Jack Swing was dying down and grunge was being to take form. Jay Leno took over The Tonight Show and made it hipper (and of course you had his agent, Helen Kushnick underbooking Arsenio's guests). Times were just changing and people started to forget about Arsenio.
There were a couple of positives that stood out though. His house band was really kickin'. He would always center certain members of the band out (There was Michael Wolfe of course, You had the "John B. Williams Poetry Moment", and Starr Parodi's one woman band jams). He was funny some of the time. And there is also the fact that a syndicated talk show went as long it did without network backing. But it was only a matter of time when the show got the death knell.
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