In 1986, the Fox network introduced The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, created to directly challenge The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. After a moderate start, ratings for the show sagged. Behind-the-scenes relations between Rivers and network executives at Fox quickly eroded, and Rivers left in 1987. The series was subsequently renamed The Late Show, and featured several hosts, including Ross Shafer, Suzanne Somers, Richard Belzer and Robert Townsend before it was canceled in 1988. Hall was also chosen to host the show in the fall of 1987, and his stint proved to be immensely popular, developing a cult following which eventually led to Hall landing his own show in syndication.
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