It’s fair to say that the end of 2022 wasn’t particularly kind to James Corden, who was forced to defend himself and apologize after restaurateur Keith McNally called out his “abusive” behavior.
Keith is the owner of the New York celebrity hotspot Balthazar, and he called James “a tiny Cretin of a man” in a scathing Instagram post that also revealed he’d banned the British star from his establishment.
Keith included two manager reports in his social media caption that detailed James’s behavior. He wrote: “James Corden is a Hugely gifted comedian, but a tiny Cretin of a man. And the most abusive customer to my Balthazar servers since the restaurant opened 25 years ago.”
The first report claimed that James “was extremely nasty” to a server after he found a hair in his food, and that he threatened to leave a negative review about Balthazar online if he and his party weren’t given a round of free drinks.
The second was dated Oct. 9, less than two weeks prior to Keith’s post, and accused James of “yelling like crazy” at a server, with the star quoted as shouting: “You can’t do your job! You can’t do your job! Maybe I should go into the kitchen and cook the omelette myself!” which left the server “very shaken.”
Before long, Keith’s post had gone viral and as people reacted to the allegations against James on social media, many began to recirculate past stories about his behavior.
Within hours, Keith returned to Instagram to say that James had called him up and “apologized profusely” for how he’d behaved, adding that all was forgiven.
But the messy feud exploded later that week, when James publicly addressed Keith’s comments in an interview with the New York Times, where he insisted: “I haven’t done anything wrong, on any level.” He also said that the entire situation was “beneath” him.
“I feel so Zen about the whole thing. Because I think it’s so silly. I just think it’s beneath all of us. It’s beneath you. It’s certainly beneath your publication,” James added.
In response, Keith returned to his Instagram page and asked: “Was he joking? Or was he denying being abusive to my servers?”
“I wish James Corden would live up to his Almighty initials and come clean. If the supremely talented actor wants to retrieve the respect he had from all his fans (all 4 of them) before this incident, then he should at least admit he did wrong,” the entrepreneur continued.
In the end, James finally admitted that he was in the wrong as he addressed the furor during his opening monologue for The Late Late Show.
In the 5-minute speech, James said that he did make a “rude comment” while eating at Balthazar earlier that month and confirmed that he would apologize to the server in person next time he was in New York.
He also explained why he initially thought that he hadn’t done anything wrong, and said that he was “upset” to learn that he’d hurt somebody’s feelings as he has experience working as a server and appreciates what a difficult job it is.
James said that he made a “sarcastic, rude comment” about cooking the food himself after his wife, Julia Carey, was brought the wrong dish three times.
“It is a comment I deeply regret. I understand the difficulties of being a server — I worked shifts at restaurants for years, I have such respect and I value anyone that does such a job,” he added.
He denied Keith’s claim that he’d demanded drinks for the table as compensation, and then told viewers: “Because I didn’t shout or scream, I didn’t get up out of my seat, I didn’t call anyone names or use derogatory language, I’ve been walking around thinking that I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“But the truth is, I have. I made a rude comment, and it was wrong,” James continued. “It was an unnecessary comment, it was ungracious to the server.”
James shared some of the nasty tweets that had been posted about him in light of the scandal and insisted that he understood why everybody was upset and accepted the public’s opinion.
And while it has now been three months since the scandal, James’s misbehavior proved to be the perfect punchline at the Critics Choice Awards on Sunday.
The Los Angeles ceremony was hosted by Chelsea Handler, and in her opening monologue she couldn’t resist making jibes about her celebrity peers — to the raucous laughter of the A-list crowd.
With the room full of everyone from Austin Butler to Cate Blanchett, Chelsea made a joke at James’s expense as she said: “The cast of The Bear is here, awesome show.”
“They showed us how grueling and absolutely miserable working in the restaurant industry can be. And they didn't even have to wait on James Corden,” she went on — securing a lengthy burst of laughter from the audience.
Elsewhere in her speech, Chelsea took swipes at Nick Cannon, Ellen DeGeneres, and the infamously awkward Don’t Worry Darling press tour.
And Chelsea isn’t the only star to have spoken out against James in light of Keith’s allegations, with former Spice Girl Mel B branding him one of the worst famous people that she’d ever met.
Appearing on The Big Narstie Show in December, Mel was asked: “Who is the biggest dickhead celebrity you have met?”
“So there’s a few,” she replied, with James the first that she listed.
When pressed for the reason why she said James, Mel replied: “I think you always have to be nice to the people that you work with, whether it be production, camera guys, sound, lighting."
"We all work for the same thing, so you should always be nice and he hasn’t been very nice,” she went on.
Her comments came just weeks after Ricky Gervais fueled a theory that James’s Late Late Show writing team purposely sabotaged him by giving him an opening monologue that plagiarized one of Ricky’s most famous stand-up bits almost verbatim.
Ricky was caught liking a tweet that read: “I truly believe that Corden must have pissed off one of his writers who then gave him a section of a hugely watched Ricky Gervais stand-up routine - So that Corden himself would get the flack for doing so…”
James previously admitted that he sought therapy to stop himself from being “a brat” after his own family called him a “dickhead” and confronted him over his behavior when he became intoxicated with fame.
The comic got his big break as the co-creator and star of British sitcom Gavin & Stacey, which aired in the UK between 2007 and 2010.
He rose to prominence in the United States when he succeeded Craig Ferguson as the host of The Late Late Show in 2015.
Discussing his early fame, James told the New Yorker in 2020: “I started to behave like a brat that I just don’t think I am. It’s so intoxicating, that first flush of fame. And I think it’s even more intoxicating if you’re not bred for it.”
His Gavin & Stacey costar Rob Brydon also recalled confronting James about his attitude, telling the same publication: “I said, ‘Look, this is a bit awkward to say, but I’m just hearing these things about you, and you’ve got to know that the way you behave has an effect on people.’”
After that discussion, James agreed that he had to make a change, and in his first session with a therapist he remembered telling them that he “used to be a better person than this.”