"Last Call with Carson Daly" quietly resumed production this fall, albeit later than usual, as NBC and producers have found a way to keep Carson Daly involved as the late night show's executive producer and host — at least for now.
But long term, network insiders say they're still mulling the future of the show and Daly's on-screen involvement, news that TV Guide Magazine first broke in September: "'Last Call' could potentially continue with Daly or a new host. Also on the table is a format revamp, or perhaps the show might end its run all together."
Daly is busy hosting "The Voice," working as a regular contributor to "Today" and handling his daily morning radio show on Los Angeles, in addition to "Last Call." It was the surprise "Today" announcement in September that led NBC to postpone the start of production for "Last Call's" 13th season. "He is the hardest-working man in show business right now," says "Last Call" executive producer Stewart Bailey.
According to Bailey, production finally started after a plan was hatched to find ways to film Daly's wraparounds on a catch-as-you-can basis. "Carson's back and forth between New York and Los Angeles and we've gone to New York to shoot with him, we've shot right after his radio gig in Los Angeles, between radio and traveling to 'The Voice' stage," Bailey says. "Literally we carve as much time as we can every day where we can talk creatively about the show. We have to be like this ongoing college movie that shoots when the opportunity arises. Fortunately our show is not a day-and-date show. We don't have a monologue. So we can afford to grab things when they're available to us. Which means we travel a bit more with him."
It also means the show has evolved even more this season as it continues to embrace a docu-style half-hour format focusing on behind-the-scenes looks at storytellers and musicians. "Last Call" features bands like The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala as they prepare for their show at Los Angeles' Greek Theatre, for example. The life of hot band-of-the-moment Capital Cities was filmed as they took their show on the road. "Last Call" just shot another rising band, Chvrches, last week.
Daly may not regularly be on hand at those shoots (although he continues to attend festivals like South By Southwest for the show), but he still gives final approval on bands and song lists showcased on "Last Call."
Despite the hiatus, Bailey says "Last Call" will shoot 24 weeks of originals this season, on par with past years. ("Last Call" doesn't run as many originals as the big shows like "Tonight.")
"(Carson) has always pointed to this as something he's most proud of," Bailey says. "He gets to put his own personal stamp on music and culture and curate what we put out."
NBC has its hands full at the moment preparing for the "Tonight Show" and "Late Night" transitions, which are just three months away. But after that, there's still the possibility of a new host joining "Last Call" if it sticks with this iteration. Daly is also expected to remain as executive producer. But no decisions have been made.
"Last Call" has been in originals much of this month before taking a break. New episodes return the week of Dec. 9, with a mix of shows featuring bigger acts like Chvrches and one centering on "Write the Night," a showcase of singer-songwriters, which taped Nov. 12 at Los Angeles' Troubadour club.