Arsenio Hall's flat top hair cut, signature use of his index finger, and ability to rile up an audience with a simple woofing and pumping of his fist made him an icon of early 1990s television. And now the man who gave Jay Leno, Johnny Carson and David Letterman a run for their money more than 20 years ago as he redefined the late night talk show game is set for a comeback.
CBS Television Distribution announced Monday that it has signed Hall for a new syndicated nightly talk show, which will air Monday through Friday beginning in March 2013.
For those who don't remember, "The Arsenio Hall Show" had a no holds barred, anything can happen sensibility, and with that became one of the first late night shows to appeal to the youth market -- and notably, to cater to a multi-ethnic demographic.
While his show ran from 1989 through 1994, the actor and comic hosted a bevy of talent, from comedians to actors, musicians to politicians -- and in one case, those last two rolled into one. Here is a look at some of Hall's most memorable moments from the hit show.
|Bill Clinton's Sax Solo|
While mounting his ultimately successful run for president in 1992, then Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton appeared on the show, and donning a suit and sunglasses belted out "Heartbreak Hotel" on the saxophone. Hall seemed to approve as the then 45-year-old political hopeful took to his stage on June 3, 1992. The appearance likely also helped endear Clinton to Hall's diverse and youthful audience.
|Magic Johnson Interview|
L.A. Lakers star Earvin `Magic' Johnson had been great friends before Johnson retired from professional basketball after his shock 1991 announcement that he had tested positive for HIV. Johnson chose "The Arsenio Hall Show" as the first place to frankly discuss his diagnosis publicly. Soon after the famous appearance, Hall began to lend his celebrity to the "Safer Sex/AIDS Awareness" campaign. And when Hall won "Celebrity Apprentice" last month, he took in $250,000 for the charity of his choice -- The Magic Johnson Foundation.
|Jason Takes Arsenio|
Looking to promote his new film, "Friday the 13th, Part 7: Jason Takes Manhattan," everyone's favorite camp cook's son-turned-mass-teen-murderer Jason Voorhees stopped by Arsenio's show for a brief chat. Or, rather, to stare at the host while clutching an axe. "You know what I've really noticed? You're angry. What happened? Where did it all begin?" Arsenio asks. Hall only gets silent stares from Jason -- throughout the entire interview -- and still has trouble keeping a straight face.
|Michael Jackson Stops By|
The spontaneous nature of "The Arsenio Hall Show" may have best been captured during an episode featuring Eddie Murphy when audiences were shocked and delighted to see the King of Pop emerge from backstage. Michael Jackson walked onto Hall's set carrying an award that he presented to his friend Murphy, for being as Jackson said "the greatest comedian of all time." As the surreal moment continued, Murphy then presented Jackson an award he said was from MTV for "the greatest video of all videos, 'Thriller.'" Jackson, Murphy and Hall were all at the height of their popularity at the time, and the appearance stands as one of '90s late night television's biggest moments.
|Calling Out Vanilla Ice|
Multi-platinum rapper Vanilla Ice, aka Robert Van Winkle, faced some tough questions in what resulted in arguably Hall's most painful interviews throughout the show. After Ice called Public Enemy rapper Flavor Flav out for an inexplicable on-stage hug, Hall confronted the rapper about it, asking if he merely brought him out to prove that he has a black supporter. Ice vehemently denied this, but Hall's audience members were quick to heckle him. Hall also confronted him about his bad mouthing of MC Hammer -- which Ice again denied. Though the interview ultimately ends amicably, the damage may have already been done to Mr. Van Winkle's brief rap career.
|Hall Goes Off on Members of Queer Nation|
While Arsenio was prepping to introduce Paul Hogan during a May 1991 taping, he was confronted by members of his audience from the action group Queer Nation. The guests yelled from the audience, "Why don't you have any gay guests on your show?" Hall walked directly into the audience and responded that in fact many of his guests might be gay, but don't talk about their sexuality on the show. Hall continues to confront the guests, saying "This ain't Johnny, I'm not gonna run from it." Hall eventually gets enraged, and begins to scream that he's "black, the biggest minority you know" to the confrontational audience members, and then proceeds to spend the rest of his monologue berating them. The audience responded with the trademark booting and hollering they were known for until Hogan awkwardly emerges from backstage.