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On James Corden's final show: 'We are all more the same than we are different'

James Corden used part of his farewell speech on Thursday's final episode of CBS' The Late Late Show to address the deep rift in America over hot button issues including politics and ideology.

"We started this show with Obama, then Trump and a global pandemic. I've watched America change a lot. I've watched divisions grow and I've felt a sense of negativity boil over," said the host. He implored his audience to "remember what America signifies to the rest of the world. My entire life it has always been a place of optimism. ... Yes, it has flaws but show me a place that doesn't. Show me a person that doesn't.

"Just because somebody disagrees with you it doesn't make them bad or evil. We are all more the same than we are different. There are so many people who are trying to stoke those differences and we have to try as best we can to look for the light, look for the joy. If you do, it's out there. That's all this show has ever been about," he said.

Corden announced one year ago that he would be ending his late-night show after eight seasons, citing a desire to return to his native UK to be closer to family and loved ones. His parents were seated in the audience for the final taping, and his sisters, he joked, were in town too —- but at a bar instead.

Also Thursday, CBS aired a primetime special called The Last Last Late Late Show Special featuring taped segments with Tom Cruise (where they performed stunts and sang a duet of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from "The Lion King") and Adele, where they taped a final Carpool Karaoke segment.

Corden reminded the singer that she has an Emmy, Grammy and Oscar and wondered if she would ever actively pursue a Tony Award. "You have the EGO" he said.

"I really don't think that that is ever gonna happen. I would never write a musical or anything like that because I (expletive) hate musicals," said Adele to laughter. "I also think the EGO suits me better."

Harry Styles and Will Ferrell were Corden's final guests. Styles has been a frequent visitor to the show, and has even guest-hosted twice. He's been game for a number of taped bits with Corden including the time the host directed a music video for Styles' song Daylight for just $300 and when the musician took part in a more than 11-minute segment featuring a UK Vs. U.S. dodgeball game where Corden, Styles, "Games of Thrones" actor James Bradley and Benedict Cumberbatch faced off against players including Michelle Obama, Mila Kunis, Kate Hudson, Lena Waithe, and Melissa McCarthy.

"As a friend, I'm so incredibly proud of you," Styles told Corden. "On a personal note, you've been a safe space to me always as a friend." He added that he was '"selfishly very excited that you're coming home." Styles, Corden and Ferrell then embraced in a group hug.

There were also goodbyes from the other late night hosts. Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and David Letterman all appeared in a pre-taped segment with Corden. They joked that since Corden was ending his show, they could each call dibs on one of his segments.

They all chose Carpool Karaoke, referencing Corden's most popular sketch where he drives around Los Angeles with celebrities and sing songs. Paul McCartney, Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder and Chris Martin are a few of his Carpool Karaoke passengers. The segment was such a hit that it spun-off into its own series for Apple. Corden only appeared in the debut episode with Will Smith in the car.

Corden closed out the night by playing a piano and singing a song with the crew and staff gathered around the stage. "Part of me thinks I should stay here forever but deep in my heart I just know," Corden sang. "No more shows to be showing, it's time I was going, It's time. Thanks for watching, that's our show."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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