After years of virtual invisibility, Arsenio Hall is back in the TV game, hosting "not your father's" Star Search for CBS (Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 pm/ET). And the 47-year-old ex-late nighter confesses that as far as gigs go, well, this one is a piece of cake. (No offense, Ed McMahon.)
"[As] the host, you're just the glue," he told reporters at the Television Critics Assoc. press tour in Hollywood. "You're the ring master for this live circus, and anybody can do it. You don't have an opinion; you read a teleprompter, and you try to look for an opportunity to throw in an ad-lib with the audience."
For their final judgment, the aspiring singers, comedians and models turn to the glib opinions of regular judges Ben Stein, Naomi Judd and Carol Leifer, as well as rotating guests like Jack Osbourne and viewers voting from home. Hall, meanwhile, relies on the legacy of original Search host McMahon to guide him through his new job.
"I think [Star Search] lasted as long as it did because Ed was perfect," Hall says. "And when he called me the other night, I told him that. I hope only to stay out of the way and be as good for the show as he was."