James Corden, who as per insiders at NBC is seen as the ‘successor’ to Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show throne, seems to have a better record for generosity to his staff. Just when DeGeneres’ brand was taking a massive hit for not paying staff, Corden announced his decision to continue to pay the salaries of about 60 furloughed staffers on ‘The Late Late Show’ after their paychecks from CBS came to an end on May 4. According to reports, the ‘out of pocket’ expense for Corden was estimated to be in the range of “mid-five figures a week”. Pretty generous, wouldn’t you say?
But his decision might have been a calculated PR move, anticipating the move to the daytime talk show. Corden, who also famously brands himself as “nice”, like Ellen DeGeneres, has quite a few rumors swirling about also being as mean and entitled as her and being only “nice to famous people”.
He has a rough track record of stories from non-celebrities saying he’s exclusively nice to famous people. There was a really hilarious and ugly reddit AMA with him where people called him out for it, would recommend seeking out 😂
— MÆVE (@MaevaMaeve) August 2, 2020
But the most concrete accusation against him is also one that he inadvertently confirmed on Twitter while trying to defend himself. The accusation revolves around a 2019 incident, where Corden reportedly showed up at a Writers Guild of America (WGA) meeting with his executive producer (but none of his writers) to advocate for a “new writer’s program” that would allow his show to hire writers who had interned for a year on a show at a wage lower than the mandated minimum set by the Guild.
The accusation came from a late night writer who had attended the meeting, tweeting from the handle @jackallisonLOL. He wrote: “I’d like to state once again for the record that I went to a WGA meeting for only late night writers, and James Corden showed up without any of his staffers to advocate for a lower pay grade for late night writers.”
I’d like to state once again for the record that I went to a WGA meeting for only late night writers, and James Corden showed up without any of his staffers to advocate for a lower pay grade for late night writers
— anonymous account (@jackallisonLOL) April 16, 2019
Replying to the accusation, Corden tried to frame the incident in a more positive light, tweeting that he “would never ever want to pay a writer less than they deserve. Never. I love every writer on my show and all I ever wanted from that meeting was to explore whether talented people could get a better opportunity.”
However, @jackallisonLOL immediately scuttled Corden’s ‘out of the kindness of his heart’ argument by saying: “James, you showed up to a guild meeting, as an employer, flanked by your executive producer, to advocate for the show’s interest to pay writers less. If you want to give talented young writers a shot, you can pay them the Guild minimum that was negotiated in the MBA”. MBA in his tweet referred to the ‘Minimum Basic Agreement’, a collective bargaining agreement that covers the benefits, rights, and protections for most of the work done by WGA members. Corden was not able to answer to this tweet, in essence confirming that he was trying to take advantage of new writers who were lowest on the totem pole and could be exploited.
James, you showed up to a guild meeting, as an employer, flanked by your executive producer, to advocate for the show’s interest to pay writers less. if you want to give talented young writers a shot, you can pay them the Guild minimum that was negotiated in the MBA
— anonymous account (@jackallisonLOL) April 18, 2019
Corden’s track record has to be seen in the light of what was the beginning of the end for Ellen DeGeneres’ brand. From April 17, staff started being honest about their ‘behind the scenes’ experience after DeGeneres’ show made headlines for hiring an outside, non-union company to assist tape the show remotely from her home. Neither the talk show host nor her top executives made an attempt to support the crew during the lockdown, financially or emotionally, as they were informed (after a month of uncertainty) that they had to brace themselves for a nearly 60 percent reduction in pay while the highly lucrative show continued to air.
After that, more stories began pouring out, mostly thanks to a viral Twitter thread that was subsequently picked up by Buzzfeed that began interviewing staffers on conditions of anonymity. Since then, DeGeneres herself has told Warner Media that she would like to walk away from the show to protect her “personal brand”.
Just like DeGeneres, there are stories circulating about Corden as well, mainly because of a viral Reddit thread where Corden had asked viewers to “ask him anything” that saw countless users, including those from the UK bashing him for ‘being a douche’. Twitter users picked up choice posts on the thread and reposted it after the news broke that James Corden was being considered as a replacement.
Corden himself had gone on record in February 2020 to say that he began to “behave like a brat” after tasting success for the first time on British television with ‘Gavin & Stacey’. His parents prayed for him while his sisters also intervened asking him not to be “a d**khead”. Things were bad enough for Corden to see a therapist about his behavior. And this is the nub of the problem — if the first flush of fame affected him to that extent, what kind of monster has success in the toxic, enabling environment of Hollywood made him into? Especially since he was not a “nice guy” to begin with.