From Adele to Tom Cruise, ‘Late Late Show’ EP Talks Setting the Stage for James Corden’s Exit

You would think Adele’s appearance on “The Last Last Late Late Show with James Corden” was the result of a producer’s carefully curated plan. After all, the global superstar was responsible for the talk show’s most-viewed “Carpool Karaoke” clip of all time on YouTube; it only makes sense she would return for its final episode. But according to executive producer Rob Crabbe, that wasn’t the case at all.

“She approached us. That was Adele just wanting to surprise James [Corden] with the last carpool,” Crabbe told TheWrap. “He thought he had done his last carpool when he did Diddy last week. So that was just her being amazing and wanting to go out with a bang – quite literally with waking him up with a pair of symbols.”

Thus begins “The Late Late Show’s” departure from television. Starting at 10 p.m. ET/PT Thursday, CBS and Paramount+ will air “The Last Last Late Late Show with James Corden Carpool Karaoke Special,” which will include Adele’s final ride with Corden.

That will be followed at 12:37 a.m. ET/PT by the final-ever episode of the talk show. Corden will also be hosting little bits within primetime throughout Thursday night.

Adele standing next to James Corden
Adele standing next to James Corden

According to Crabbe, the “Late Late Show” team was “pretty specific” when it came to deciding which celebrities they wanted to have on the show in its final week. “It was more just tactical asks of people that have long-standing relationships with the show,” Crabbe said.

Adele appears in the “Carpool Karaoke” special because of her close friendship with Corden. Harry Styles was chosen as one of the final guests due to his years-long “bromance” with Corden. As for Will Ferrell, he was an early supporter of the series who appeared “on our second-ever or third-ever episode and has done a bunch of stuff with us over the years,” Crabbe said. “So we wanted to close it out with them.”

And then there’s Tom Cruise. Over the years, the action star has made Corden do everything from skydive to fly a fighter jet. As previously announced, their final adventure together will involve a performance of “The Lion King” at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater. This time around “Tom has to come into James’ world.” But Crabbe assured TheWrap there will still be some planes and helicopters involved.

The executive producer also teased that the 12:37 p.m. ET/PT episode will include a sketch that “is going to surprise a lot of people.” “It’s going to be, hopefully, very satisfying to new fans and all the longtime fans that have stuck with us for the last eight years,” Crabbe said.

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Nearly a year ago to the day of “The Late Late Show’s” finale, Corden sat his team down and told them that he would be leaving the show. “All he ever cared about was giving plenty of warning, making sure everybody was OK,” Crabbe said. “He was very gracious in his timing, and gave everybody that full year to know that he was going to wrap it up.”

Now, after over 1,100 episodes, that day has come. According to Crabbe, “The Late Late Show” will be ending with almost all of the people who started the series.

After the show finishes, Corden will be returning to England. While sitting in his bare office with a moving box on his desk, Crabbe admitted that the cast and crew hasn’t had much time to reflect “because we’re charging so hard towards the finish line.” When he spoke to TheWrap on Wednesday, Crabbe said they still had 36 hours to go and a lot of work left to do. But the word that came to his mind was bittersweet.

“We’ve accomplished so much more than we ever expected in our eight years on the air,” Crabbe said. “So we haven’t literally left anything on the table. We get to go off into the sunset feeling very happy with what we’ve done.”