PASADENA, Calif.–With Jay Leno scheduled to present Wednesday at NBC’s portion of the TCA press tour, the late night talk show hype is heating up. Craig Ferguson made the scene a few days ago and killed, packing a small conference room and having the kind of crackling conversation he offers every night on his CBS Late Late Show (12:35 a.m. ET).
Ferguson told us that he’s already thinking of canning the dancing sharks and moneys (“I’m getting bored of puppets”), that he just got his pilot’s license last week, that he’s looking forward to reading his own autobiography (American On Purpose, due in September).
He also said, matter of fact, that he’s crazier today than he was before the show began five years ago, but he’s okay with it. I KNOW!
Now that he’s firmly established in late night (and beating Jimmy Fallon now and then in total households), what of his future, he was asked. Does he want to be on at an earlier hour? More money? World domination?
More money, Ferguson said (echoing a sentiment he shared last January with critics). Then he got remarkably focused and candid:
Ambitions. I don’t want to be poor. I don’t want to be rich to the extent that all I care about is keeping my job. I don’t care enough about keeping my job right now. That’s good. That makes me effective at what I do. I don’t — I don’t want to be frightened of getting fired. So, to that end, I suppose my ambitions are that I spend less than I earn —
— because, look, the truth is we are all in a precarious business. You mentioned the newspapers. We cover entertainment in whatever way we do that, and I don’t want to be frightened. As writers, to be frightened, you will become ineffective. I don’t want to be frightened. So I don’t want to have the ambition of a time slot or a number of dollars. Frightened. Do I want to make a lot of money? Fuck, yeah. But I want to make it at the expense of — look, I’ve met a lot of rich people who are douche bags.
I don’t want to be that. I don’t want to be that. So — or any more of that than is necessary. So I hope to, I suppose in some way, try and maintain some — if I have any, some type of integrity. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror. That’s my ambition.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we love Craig Ferguson.
He also straightened NBC out on who is really the new King of Late Night–his boss, David Letterman:
David Letterman, no matter what the numbers have ever been, ever, in the past — how long has David been on…like 30 years. David Letterman is the king of late night television. All right. Now, I know there are press releases and other people that can prove to you scientifically that that’s not fucking true, but I’m telling you that’s true.