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Shining The Spotlight Again

Arcenio Hall
CBS
In the early '90s, millions of fans stayed up late to watch "The Arsenio Hall Show." Now, Hall is shifting gears from Hollywood's "Who's Who" to a national "Who's That?," as the new host of the classic variety show "Star Search."

Hall expects it to be hard work.

And, to make things interesting, the show will be broadcast live. "The trick is to make it look fun even when it isn't," says Hall. "That's what I do. It's going to be work, but hopefully, it'll be fun for the people watching."

Over a decade ago, "Star Search" cast a spotlight on talents as diverse as Britney Spears and Rosie O'Donnell.

Showcasing unknown talent is nothing new for Hall. In fact, it was a hallmark of his talk show. He says he tried to expose talent whenever he sees it.

Probably the biggest rising star to visit the "Arsenio Hall Show" was former President Bill Clinton. During the 1992 presidential campaign, he picked up a saxophone on Hall's show.

"He had on my glasses and tie. And, um, he was very good," says Hall. "But you know what? He went on to other things."

Hall was shopping his own talent show to the networks until he got a fateful phone call. "Les Moonves, our boss, gives me a call and says, 'I hear you're trying to sell a talent show.' And I'm, like, 'Yeah, you want to buy it?'" laughs Hall. "He says, 'No, I want you to do the one I have.'"

He was talking about "Star Search." CBS acquired the rights to the show and had a plan to air new shows.

Hall says he thought, "If I can't do the one I created, why not bring back the Granddaddy?"

Would a young Arsenio Hall have won in the original "Star Search"? Hall says, "If Dennis Miller didn't win, I don't think I would have won."

In fact, Miller is just one of a number of big stars who performed on "Star Search" and lost. Brad Garrett, Drew Carey, even a young Christina Aguilera lost their competitions.

Hall says he doesn't feel pressured to have "Star Search" succeed.

"I'm at a point in my life where I've found balance," says Hall. "I have a great personal life, and I love making people laugh. So whatever God wants for me, bring it on."

Tune in to The Early Show on Thursday for a recap of "Star Search" winners.