Apple Music’s first original television series is an unscripted series, a spin off of James Corden’s Late Late Show bit, Carpool Karoke, but it won’t have Corden in the driver’s seat for 15 of its 16 episodes. Instead, celebrities have been paired together for all of the episodes (except one). Those pairings—many of whom are friends or know each other well—include:
- John Legend and Alicia Keys
- Ariana Grande and Seth McFarlane
- Metallica and Billy Eichner
- Chelsea Handler and Blake Shelton
- James Corden and Will Smith
The half-hour episodes will not be contained to cars. Instead, the celebrities will exit the vehicle—signing in a laundromat, for example.
At the winter Television Critics Association press tour this morning, executive producer Eric Pankowski described it as a “new format,” and executive producer Ben Winston described the show as “an interview series where you partner two people,” and added that the celebrities will “do certain things, learn about each others lives.”
Pankowski said they considered one host early in the process, but “what James done on the Late Late show is so special, so singular, so unique, that it was silly … to try to replicate that or duplicate that. What we fell in love with was doing 16 specials.” He said “each one is its own event,” and on some of them, “you get to tap into this pre-existing relationship that is wonderful and beautiful to watch.”
He added that “it sets it apart from what James and Ben do on the Late Late Show.” Late Late Show EP Ben Winston agreed, saying there is a “fundamental difference” between the Late Late Show bit and the new series. On television, the format is “James with a multi-massive selling recording artist,” and that means actors and other celebrities who ask to do Carpool Karoke are rejected: “that doesn’t really work.”
The producers and Corden sidestepped a question about Spike’s show Caraoke Showdown. Corden said, “I haven’t seen it; I don’t know.” Spike’s show isn’t all that similar, though; it’s hosted by Craig Robinson and is basically Cash Cab—regular people get into a car and compete—but with karoke-related games instead of trivia.