James Corden recently had another one of his “pinch yourself” moments. “The Late Late Show” host, who returns to London this week for another round of shows from his homeland, scored an all-time late night win as he recruited Sir Paul McCartney to tape a “Carpool Karaoke” segment.
Together, Corden and McCartney sang a mix of hits and new songs as the Beatles legend gave the host a tour of Liverpool. The “Carpool Karaoke” segment will air this week as Corden broadcasts “The Late Late Show” from Central Hall Westminster.
“Here is one where, no matter how hard I try to pinch myself, I can’t quite believe that it’s something we’ve managed to do,” Corden told IndieWire. “But manage we have.”
Corden said he and his team began reaching out to McCartney about five months ago, knowing that McCartney was planning on releasing new music. “Really it came down to Paul and myself getting on the phone together and me telling him how I envisioned it would do, how we could make it bespoke to him and God bless him, he said, ‘Yeah, this is what I’d love to do.’ It was a day I’ll never ever forget,” Corden said.
Other guests during the U.K. week include Chris Pratt, Damian Lewis, J.J. Abrams, Ruth Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Niall Horan, and Cher, who plays “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts.” Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber also joins to participate in a new “Crosswalk the Musical.”
“What a great sport,” Corden said. “I’ve been fond of Andrew for so long, and he’s without a question Britain’s greatest musical theatrical composer. When I talked to him about it, [I said], ‘What we’d love is if you talk about this as being the pinnacle of your life’s work, to have your life’s work performed on the crosswalk.’ He said, ‘Absolutely, I get it.’ Before you know it he’s on a cherry picker, which we’ve put a velvet curtain around, and he’s in a tuxedo maybe like 15 feet off the crowd, next to this crosswalk with opera glasses. It’s so stupid.”
This represents the second year in a row “The Late Late Show with James Corden” has traveled to the U.K. for a week of shows. Corden said he’s not quite ready to declare it an annual tradition, however.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to do it or afford it,” he said. “Logistically it’s a nightmare, an absolute nightmare trying to pull it off. We just want to make the show that outperforms its slot in terms of ambition. To travel with the show internationally and to bring it home where there’s such a level of affection for the show, is a dream for us. We’d love to do it. Whether we can or not, I don’t know.”
“The Late Late Show” has touted the fact that it holds the YouTube record for the most-watched late night clip with “Adele Carpool Karaoke,” which has 181 million views. Asked whether he foresees a time where “Late Late Show” moves more of its focus to digital and away from linear (similar to “Conan,” which will shrink to 30 minutes on air next year), Corden said he still enjoyed “the notion of doing a TV show every day.
“I love the pressure of it, I love the nature of it,” he said. “I consider it to be an absolute privilege to make an hour of television every day. If there’s just one person that we could bring a bit of levity to the last hour of their day, that’s an unbelievable privilege to me.”
Corden said he worried that, as viewership moves to streaming, that the communal nature of television may soon be lost.
“The greatest thing about television is that it brings people together,” he said. “My fondest memories of when my grandfather was alive, was me, my dad and my grandfather, three generations of the family, sitting and watching a sitcom called ‘Only Fools and Horses.’ And all of us doubled over laughing at it. I think it’s really important to remember that those are important moments in people’s lives.
“I really feel like we’ve got to be careful what we wish for sometimes,” he said. “Because as the world becomes a much more isolated and insular place, we will search for things that will bring everyone together. Whether that’s live events or events on the television. And we should celebrate those things that still do that.
It’s something that plays on my mind. And it’s a real honor to be on an American network every day.”
Corden hopes that bits like his “Carpool Karaoke” with McCartney might help bring generations to watch together. He quipped: “In the words of a great person, we can ‘come together, right now, over me!”