Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
BACK IN BUSINESS
FOR A GUY WHOSE CATCHPHRASE USED to be "Let's get busy," Arsenio Hall has been keeping a low profile since he retired his syndicated talk show in 1994. Turns out he was just waiting for the right moment for a comeback. "I went to lay around in Acapulco," Hall says. "Two weeks into it, I knew in my heart I wasn't gone from the business for good." Now his hiatus is officially ending. On Wed., March 5, the sitcom Arsenio premieres at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC. "I've jokingly referred to it as Black About You," says Hall, 41, who plays a TV sportscaster married to Independence Day's Vivica A. Fox, "but it's more like, an integrated Friends."
Hall's return hasn't been snag-free. In January, Arsenio executive producer David Rosenthal quit after a reported war of words with the star. "Adjustments have been necessary," concedes former ABC Entertainment chairman Ted Harbert, who took Rosenthal's place, "but we think we now have a smart, sophisticated show."
For his part, Hall says he prefers the sitcom format. "Talk shows vs. sitcoms is like tennis vs. basketball," he says. "In basketball the guys have friends, a team. On my talk show I felt I didn't have anybody to pat on the butt or give a high five to. Having a talk show was one of my dreams," he adds. "But I didn't get into show business to do just One thing."