Arsenio Hall is back on TV hosting The World's Funniest Moments on MyNetwork TV, as well as hosting TV One's limited five-part series 100 Greatest Black Power Moves (premieres Sunday, Nov. 9, 10 pm/ET) . The busy single dad of a 9-year-old son recently spoke to TVGuide.com about why he gave up his popular late-night talk show, his relationship with BFF Eddie Murphy and getting back on stage in what he calls his "Geritol" comedy tour.
TVGuide.com: So I hear you've been back touring lately...
Arsenio Hall: Well, yes, but, don't get me wrong — 20 years ago, the word "touring" would be another kind of conversation. This is my "Geritol" tour. I'm a single dad of a 9-year-old and I kinda do a date here and there when I want to. It isn't like when I was a young man on tour with Tina Turner or doing comedy clubs with Bob Saget ... this is like, you do a date and then lay in the hospital for a few days to recover.
TVGuide.com: You were quite a pioneer in late night television. Why did you walk away from your show?
AH: A lot of people thought I was insane. But I've just been one of those people ...there's a saying by someone, that 'on my deathbed I [would] never ask for another day at the office.' I got to that point in my life where I was like, I love the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and being on the cover of Time magazine actually made my nipples hard, but the reality is, I wanted to make sure I found some balance in my life ...I realized that when I leave this Earth, I want to be more than the talk show guy or the comedian.
TVGuide.com: Is it hard to be away from it now?
AH: I won't lie, it's hard to see Obama standing there dancing next to Ellen [DeGeneres] and not feel resentful and want to be her at that moment. But then, I think back, at one point I was like, I don't even have a passport. I'd like to maybe travel! Or maybe do one other thing — I've already been a comedian and written with the guys with Coming to America. It's like what Michael Jordan must have felt when he left the Bulls to go play baseball. No matter what happens, I'll feel the exhilaration of the challenge.
TVGuide.com: How did you get involved in hosting 100 Greatest Black Power Moves?
AH: I always try to be a good friend in this town. Back in the day, one of my very important and loyal [jobs] was at WBBM in Chicago and it was run by a guy named Jonathan Rogers. And now Jonathan Rogers runs a young, small black television network called TV One. I like the direction he's going. When he told me he was doing this [special], well, you know, people complain there's nothing on television but rarely do anything to change it. When he told me about this project, I said I'd love to be on the ground floor.
TVGuide.com: What stories inspired you in the series?
AH: Well, the thing I liked about it is that the moves aren't just about a person it's about specific moves in that person's life. It may not be the whole Shirley Chisholm life story, but it may be about the fact that she ran for president.
TVGuide.com: Is your friend Eddie Murphy on the list?
AH: Yeah ...but his move came during The Nutty Professor. The studios were giving him a hard time [meaning they didn't offer him the part instantly] so he used the makeup artist from Coming to America and with his own money shot the famous dinner scene ... playing all the different characters. He had to prove himself and he did. It's a story I tell young comics — hey, even Eddie Murphy had to prove himself.
TVGuide.com: Are you and Eddie still close?
AH: We're still very good friends. I was over at his house eating dinner and he wasn't even there! That's how close we are. It's weird how you grow in a relationship. First, it's all about the hottest clubs you can get into, and now it's like, "Are the kids with you or Nicole (Murphy's ex-wife), because I'm bringing my son over."
TVGuide.com: So, what's the deal with World's Funniest Moments? Will there be more episodes?
AH: The deal is ...when they first came to me with the idea it seemed like just a rip off [of AFV]. But the network said, no, we're trying to bring it forward into this era using the Internet. So, all the videos are supposed to come off the Internet ... and it's fun. It's hard to clear the clips often, but what's come out of it is a lot of young filmmakers and comedy writers are posting their stuff on the Internet, trying to get our attention. So if you're a young Spike Lee and want to post a minute piece on the Internet, it may end up on our show. Hopefully, they'll order more episodes!