Arsenio Hall stops by the 'Extra' set in Universal City, Calif. on October 23, 2013

Arsenio Hall stops by the ‘Extra’ set in Universal City, Calif. on October 23, 2013

*Would the “Bad Boys” franchise have been as successful with Arsenio Hall co-starring with Martin Lawrence instead of Will Smith?

We’ll never know, because of a conscious decision Hall made to walk away from his Paramount-produced talk show and its constant grind in 1994.
“I wrote a letter to [former Paramount Television Group Chairman] Kerry McCluggage, and I told him that I needed balance in my life,” explains Hall. “Not only personally, but professionally, I wanted to try other things. And we decided how long I would stay. The compliment to me from Paramount was usually, if you leave something, they don’t want you on the air after you know you’re going because you go crazy if you’re in entertainment. And we had a really dignified relationship, which is why I’m able to go back now to the same place.”

“They let me continue for a few more months while we tried to figure out what to do because Paramount at first proposed that I stay and produce it, but that’s the same amount of work,” Hall says. “You’re still there every day, and you’re still not out doing other things, personal and professional, to find that balance I thought I needed.”

Below, Arsenio explains how important it was for him to leave his show willingly in 1994, and how his decision also meant turning down a choice role in that Michael Bay blockbuster the following year.

The revived “Arsenio Hall Show” airs weeknights at 11 p.m. on The CW.