Larry Wilmore, the former host of The Nightly Show, has signed a new multi-year deal with ABC Studios. Under the new pact, Wilmore will create his own material alongside supervising other projects.
In a statement given to the Hollywood Reporter, Wilmore said, “I’m excited beyond words to be back at ABC.”
Wilmore added that he was looking forward to this new “creative partnership.”
Wilmore’s late-night talk show ended three months ago. Kent Alterman, Comedy Central’s president, highlighted the reason as the show’s inability to connect with viewers.
He said, “Unfortunately, it hasn’t connected with our audience in ways that we need it to.”
Alterman also stated that the show failed to connect with viewers across both multiplatform outlets and the linear channel. The show was also lacking popularity on social media.
Alterman mentioned that he was “hoping against hope” that the show would start resonating with the viewers. However, when the show failed to create the desired impact, Alterman had to cancel it due to lack of traction.
Wilmore was quite upfront in expressing his disappointment when the show ended. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Wilmore expressed his desire to return to the landscape of scripted shows. He had also talked about his love for storytelling and the fact that he was looking forward to doing more of it.
During his long career as a successful producer and TV writer, Wilmore has worked on popular series like The Bernie Mac Show, The Office and The PJs. Wilmore’s work for The Bernie Mac Show won him an Emmy award under the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series category.
The end of The Nightly Show in August marked a brief hiatus in Wilmore’s decade-long association with ABC. Wilmore originally launched his career with ABC’s The Daily Show with the satirical title, “Senior Black Correspondent.”
When The Nightly Show first aired, Wilmore had the benefit of having Jon Stewart, the Daily Show’s host, as his main lead-in. This was around the time when the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining momentum across the nation.
However, Wilmore lost Stewart as his lead-in voice during the months that followed. The show later found another black voice in the new host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah.
At the time the show ended, Wilmore felt “saddened” by the fact that he won’t get a chance to cover the elections.
ABC had to consider the contractual logistics when reaching the decision to take the show off air.
Prior to the final decision, Comedy Central was facing the looming decision on whether to sign Wilmore along with other supporting staff and crew for another season. Since the show’s popularity rating was alarmingly low, Comedy Central didn’t find it justifiable to sign a deal for another season.
Regarding the timing of the show’s end, Alterman later clarified that it had little to do with the elections.
He said, “It wasn’t about the election — it’s about another year of the show.”
It was evident to Alterman that the show was lacking resonance with its target audience due to its low ratings. However, the fact that fans were not engaging with the show by sharing content on social platforms or by having a dialogue around it contributed to the final decision.
The new deal will lend Wilmore a fresh start with ABC. Patrick Moran, the president of ABC Studios, said, “We’re thrilled to welcome Larry Wilmore back to ABC Studios.”
Moran added that he is looking forward to what is coming next from Wilmore while dubbing him as an “incredibly talented writer-producer.”
In his statement to the Hollywood Reporter, Wilmore also mentioned that Disney took a chance on him when he was a young writer. He is now “thrilled” to return. He just hopes his room still looks the same.
[Featured Image by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images]