Here’s How the Late Late Show Turned 2 of Its Most Popular Segments Into Their Own Series

Drop the Mic follows Carpool Karaoke from late-night to prime time

James Corden will only appear occasionally on Drop the Mic, facing off with celebs like Nicole Richie and Halle Berry.
Kelsey McNeal

Turning one late-night segment into its own show is impressive enough, as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon did with Spike’s Lip Sync Battle. But The Late Late Show with James Corden has doubled down on spinoffs this year, launching not one but two new series based on its most popular bits. Carpool Karaoke just wrapped its first season on Apple Music, and Drop the Mic debuts Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. on TBS.

Hosted by Method Man and Hailey Baldwin, Drop the Mic includes celebrity rap battles between the likes of Veep co-stars Tony Hale and Timothy Simons, The Big Bang Theory castmates Mayim Bialik and Kunal Nayyar, musicians Rascal Flatts and Boyz II Men, and random pairings like Gina Rodriguez and Rob Gronkowski. Corden, who will face off against stars like Nicole Richie and Halle Berry, executive produces the show alongside Jensen Karp and Ben Winston, the executive producer of The Late Late Late Show who was named one of Adweek’s Young Influentials earlier this month.

Winston and Karp spoke with Adweek about the art of turning a talk-show segment into its own series—twice—why Drop the Mic works better as a half-hour show than a Late Late Show bit and Apple Music’s decision to delay Carpool Karaoke several months.

Adweek: What was your approach to turning Drop the Mic into a series, and was it similar to what you had done with Carpool Karaoke?
Ben Winston: We knew instantly when we did this the first time that this was too good just to be a segment on a late-night television show. It was electric the first time we did this on Late Late and immediately, Jensen, myself and James looked at each other and were like, “This is a series.” It took very little time to work out how you would make that into a half hour, because actually it’s better as a half hour than it is a seven-minute [segment] squeezed into Act 1 of The Late Late Show.

Will we still see Drop the Mic on The Late Late Show?
Winston: It will still continue, but truthfully, we’ve only done it like eight or nine times on The Late Late Show, maybe even less. So it’s not like, how is The Late Late Show going to cope now that Drop the Mic is continuing? This is a very, very different thing in that it’s not James battling. We’ll have 64 people minimum battling across this series. And of course, every battle you do is individual. If I was battling you, we’d be saying very different things to each other if you were battling [someone else]. So it’s about seeing people out of their comfort zone, rapping when maybe that wasn’t what they were known for in a really funny, musical way.

This is probably also something you deal with on Carpool Karaoke, but how do you determine which celebs are better for the series version versus doing it on The Late Late Show?
Karp: It’s easy for me, because someone like [Fresh Off the Boat’s] Randall Park doesn’t necessarily fit the roster that we have on The Late Late Show’s Drop the Mic, but it’s a dream guest for me on the Drop the Mic show. Rascal Flatts is never going to get that opportunity to do it on The Late Late Show and not because of anything against Rascal Flatts. It’s just the way his show is set.

Winston: Also, the fundamental difference is, when you’re on The Late Late Show, you’re on to promote something that you’ve got that week. … This is a show where it’s not necessarily about plugging things. We’re not showing their movie clips. They don’t necessarily have an album out. It’s about people wanting to do it because it’s a great, fun thing to do, and they’re excited to fight their co-star on The Big Bang Theory or Veep, or they’re excited to fight their rival who they’ve never really liked, or they’re excited because they’re a big fan of Rob Gronkowski and they want to tear him apart.

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