Brian Williams apologized on the NBC Nightly News from Sochi tonight, to syndicated late-night host Arsenio Hall after NBC News left Hall’s photo off a Brady Bunch-esque photo montage of late-night stars. The montage was part of NBC News’ walk-up story Monday on NBC star Jimmy Fallon’s debut as new host of NBC’s Tonight Show. Naturally, the graphic included photos of of NBC-parent Comcast’s late-night stars: Chelsea Handler — Andy Cohen got the middle square — and even Carson Daly was included (NBC’s new “Late Night” host Seth Meyers was not in the montage, but he doesn’t debut til Monday). Also in the collection: CBS’ Dave Letterman and Craig Ferguson; ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel; former NBC star Conan O’Brien, who is now on TBS; as well as Comedy Central stars Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. In a voice-over, Williams was heard talking about all the media types “slugging it out for the turf Johnny Carson used to own.”
Tonight, in bringing up the montage, Williams said: “Arsenio is a late-night veteran and he took us to task on his show. He even urged audience members to call our newsroom.” Later, Williams added conciliatorily: “So, in apologizing to Arsenio we just wanted to point out that at least you’re in good company here.” Last July, Williams noted, NBC News left the state of New Hampshire off a map and had to apologize to a U.S. senator, and just last night on the broadcast they spelled the name of the City of Brotherly Love as PHILADELPIA. “So, chalk it up to being on the air at 4 AM in the morning in Russia — but it won’t happen again,” Williams promised.
Williams’ apology came hours after Hall nicked Williams during Tuesday’s The Arsenio Hall Show for leaving him out of the report. “If you’re doing a story about late-night, all I ask is that you mention me,” Hall said on his show. “You don’t even have to use a photo. I know how journalism is these days – use Samuel Jackson – it doesn’t even have to be my photo. Use Laurence Fishburne. Just mention me.” He noted he’s the only current late-night host “who competed and survived against Johnny Carson.” He suggested his studio audience, and viewers at home, call Williams to ask him why Hall’s photo was omitted. A phone number popped up on the screen and Hall read the number out loud. “I hate to be the angry black man so…I have an angry black man who’s going to stand in for me,” Hall continued. Out from behind the curtain came Suge Knight, founder and CEO of Black Kapital Records, co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records — and, by some media accounts, not a guy you want to mess with. Knight told Hall, in re the snub on NBC News: “You are West Coast. We are going to give them so many days, so many hours” to respond. Hall grinned and turned to the camera. “We might just be kidding, Brian,” he said, adding, “You know, sometimes I take the joke too far.” Here’s the video: