Do you want to hear about some of the famous “Talk Show Wars” from the 90s? Arsenio Hall’s interview with Oprah Winfrey for “Oprah’s Next Chapter” is full of stories about feuds between Jay Leno, David Letterman, Arsenio Hall and, of course, Oprah.
Hall got on Oprah’s bad side after doing a joke in the 80s about Oprah’s weight.
In a clip from a 1988 show, Hall says: “There are probably people in Utah saying, ‘Who is he?’ Remember all that weight Oprah lost? Old Oprah meat, that’s me.”
But the weight joke didn’t really bother Oprah. The joke that really ticked the talk show host off was a joke about Stedman Graham. Oprah doesn’t show that clip but she does admit that Stedman was a no-no topic.
Oprah said: “Yeah. That would make me mad. because Gloria didn’t ask to be a part of that.”
Arsenio says that Oprah Winfrey actually called him up to yell at him. It was a phone call that the comedian will never forget.
Hall says: “Best and worst day of my life… You schooled me in a very classy way. I knew you were serious, but you didn’t scream.”
Hall also talked about some of the late night wars he had with Jay Leno and David Letterman. Yahoo TV notes that Hall’s so-called feud with Leno started in 1992 when the comedian appeared on the cover of Entertainment Weekly beneath the words “I’m gonna kick Jay Leno’s ass.”
Hall said in the article: “I always hear that Jay and I are friends when they interview him. Jay and I are not friends… And you know what? I wasn’t anointed, okay? No one put the late-night silver spoon in my mouth. I earned every drop of mine. And I’m gonna treat him like we treated the kid on the high-school basketball team who was the coach’s son. We tried to kick his ass, and that’s what I’m going to do — kick Jay’s ass.”
But Hall’s attitude has changed toward his fellow late night hosts. The comedian said that a lot of the late night wars were just PR and that he has no ill-feelings toward Jay or Dave.
Leno said: “Even when Arsenio and I were battling, we’d call each other up to yell and end up making each other laugh… I always knew Arsenio and I would be friends. I just let that cover go. It’s publicity. And when he had his show, both of us had agents and PR people who were allegedly working for our best interests, so a lot of the stuff wouldn’t come directly from us.”
Arsenio also said that his “war” with David Letterman was exaggerated. When the talk show host decided to return to television, Letterman actually had Hall on his show to make the announcement.
Hall said: “Dave is a huge influence on me. He was one of my heroes, and to know that he didn’t hate me and invited me to announce my show, that would overlap his by a half hour, was a great honor. Because, by the way, Dave comes off as really gruff. Dave comes off as a guy who don’t like a lot of people. And for him to honor me and let me come to the Ed Sullivan Theater and all that kind of stuff, it was very special.”
Arsenio Hall’s interview with Oprah Winfrey will air this Sunday on OWN.