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TCA: Arsenio Hall’s Late-Night Strategy? ‘I Just Have to Be Better Than One Cat That’s Out There’

Still highly energetic, the host breaks down his plan to take on the late-night talkers

Arsenio Hall doesn't seem overly worried about taking on late night's heavy hitters with the Sept. 9 return of his own late night talk show, "The Arsenio Hall Show."

Going against Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman and Jay Leno as he hands off to Jimmy Fallon, Hall explained how he intends to thrive.

First, find those viewers who don't already have a favorite. "I know that not everybody has a late-night host," Hall told reporters at a Television Critics Association panel on Monday.

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Second, try to get viewers who will tune in two or hopefully three nights a week.

"You have people who come up to you and say, 'I'm your biggest fan. I watch you every night, man!' and that's not true," the host said. "Your biggest fan doesn't watch you every night. He may watch you three nights and then two nights he'll watch other people. You just want to offer a good, fun show and you're serving a unique personality that's not there so that you'll just be in the game."

"I just want to be in the game," he continued. "I just have to be better than one cat that's there."

How does he plan to do that? Hall said he's still the same host he was two decades ago — except for some aesthetic changes. "Less hair, no shoulder pads, kind of the same guy," he said.

Executive producer Neal Kendall said Hall's show may be the best place to not only hear music, but hear performers talk. Hall had very good luck attracting the most popular acts of the '90s, and let loose with them in interviews. (They included future president Bill Clinton, who famously played the saxophone on the show).

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From CBS Television Distribution, the syndicated "The Arsenio Hall Show" is scheduled to air on more than 200 channels nationwide.

Hall already has one person in late night lending him a hand. While they were fierce competitors back in the day ("When you're in competition, it's easier to hate each other," Hall said), the host is now good friends with Leno.

In fact, last August when "The Tonight Show" had to cut 20 percent of its budget and was undergoing layoffs, Leno recommended some of his former writers to Hall.

"I hired them, too," Hall said.