Neil Patrick Harris is the one of the best entertainers in the world right now, from his television performances, to movie cameos, to his perfect hosting capabilities, Neil Patrick Harris is just brilliant. After winning both an Emmy and a Tony, and the ending of How I Met Your Mother, Harris’ next goal is to step in to the shoes of Ed Sullivan…
The same afternoon NBC announced it had picked up a Neil Patrick Harris-hosted adaptation of British variety series Saturday Night Takeaway, Harris described his idea of the perfect variety-show scenario with Charlie Rose.
“In a perfect world, in five years I’m Ed Sullivan,” he said in an interview taped yesterday for Rose’s PBS interview show. “Once a week I’d get to, like, show everyone amazing performances on Broadway, amazing magicians, this great restaurant that we went to — to be a bit of a tastemaker. I’d get to be P.T. Barnum.”
The two men share ties to CBS: Harris starred on the network’s long-running Monday comedy How I Met Your Mother and was its go-to guy to host trophy shows, and Rose co-anchors CBS This Morning and is a correspondent for 60 Minutes. Rose is not the first guy to whom Harris has given his Ed Sullivan speech; back in May, Harris told Howard Stern that CBS CEO Leslie Moonves asked him if he’d be interested in doing a late-night show for the network and that he turned him down — “I told him what concerned me about the longevity of that kind of gig. I think I would get bored of the repetition fast. The structure is so set; I don’t have any interest in doing Monologue, Commercial, Sketch, Guest, Guest, Musical Act, Good Night” — and said what he really wanted to do next was host a weekly variety series for CBS. In so saying, he was re-iterating what he told CBS soon-to-be-ex late-night host Craig Ferguson: “I want to do an Ed Sullivan-y kind of show, with all the variety acts.”
At that time, Harris reported that Moonves was interested. But CBS did not land the ITV project. That might be because it came with a reported asking price north of $2.5 million per episode and offered a network no ownership, no backend, no distribution, according to one source with knowledge of the situation. And then there are those who maintain the format has little, or no, repeat value — all adding up to an “unproven” format at for a substantial price tag.
Harris, taping his Rose interview yesterday, acknowledged that a variety show is not a slam dunk these days, noting the one Sullivan hosted for CBS from 1948-1971 would not be possible now.
“The attention span of people is very small,” Harris said. “And so when you used to watch Ed Sullivan or any of those morning variety shows, the magician could do eight minutes. He would come in his tails. He’s make his cane vanish. He’d do some card [tricks]. He’d produce a dove. … You have to do a show now where it’s their best 2 1/2 minutes. Next! Instead of six acts, you have 26 acts. … It’s like America’s Got Talent. That’s why it’s so successful now. You want to meet the person, see their best thing, talk about it, move on. I think that’s the difference now.”
Later in the interview, which does not yet have an airdate on PBS, Harris adds: “Unfortunately we live in a world of YouTube where, if you want to see the main thing, you click and get to see the guy kicked in the nuts. … You can’t juggle three anymore — you have to juggle seven.”
I would watch a show with Neil Patrick Harris at the center of it, especially a variety show. I always felt he was at his best when hosting shows like The Emmys or the Tonys, and he will also try his hand at hosting the Oscars next year, it will be very interesting to see. I also can’t wait to see his recently announced arrival to American Horror Story: Freakshow with partner David Burtka. Learn more about that below and let me know what you think about a Neil Patrick Harris driven variety show in the comments…
TV Line Reports:
Neil Patrick Harris is making his upcoming American Horror Story: Freak Show gig a family affair.
TVLine has confirmed exclusively that Harris and his real-life husband, David Burtka, are set to guest-star on FX’s anthology smash.
Harris will appear in Freak Show‘s final two episodes as a chameleon salesman, while Burtka will turn up in the season finale in what I’m told is a sexy storyline with Jessica Lange’s batty chanteuse.
Earlier this month, Horror Story puppetmaster Ryan Murphy — who invited AHS super-fan (and good friend) NPH on the show via Twitter back in August — told TVLine of Harris’ forthcoming Freak Show stint: “He had very specific ideas for what he wanted to do, and I had very specific ideas, so we’re working on melding those.”
Murphy and Harris’ previous collaboration — a Season 1 episode of Glee — netted the How I Met Your Mother actor an Emmy for Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
The Freak Show development caps a busy news cycle for Harris, who was recently tapped to host the 2015 Oscars and headline his own NBC variety series.