Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Thanks to two students, I know that James Corden (left) exists and has recently earned a reputation for being abusive to servers. The latter characteristic (well, both, I suppose, as he could not be obnoxious if he did not exist) got him banned from Balthazar, a popular Soho brasserie that opened in 1997. My students shared with me this thread from Buzzfeed, a site I think I've known about for decades but have never before visited. Its format is bewildering and a bit hard to take seriously as journalism.
If we take Buzzfeed at its words, it appears that Mr. Corden was banned from Balthazar for abusive behavior. He then apologized to the owner Keith McNally, but McNally apparently kept the ban in place, writing that "if James Corden lets [sic] me host his Late Late Show for 9 months, I’ll immediately rescind his ban from Balthazar. No, of course not." But Mr. Corden also told the New York Times, "I haven’t done anything wrong, on any level." Mr. Corden seems a bit baffled by the entire episode. He has built up a reputation for years as an affable and cordial host. He is not known to be petulant or high-maintenance.
Mr. McNally could have left things at that, but instead he served up the following mix of puerile insult and a potential offer to enter into a unilateral contract
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. If he goes one step further and apologizes to the 2 servers he insulted, I’ll let him eat for free at Balthazar for the next 10 years.
Two OCU 1ls, Justine Sandoval, who really did all the work, and Melody Parra, who mostly just provided comic counterpoint to Justine's material, disagreed as to whether an offer had been made. Based on what was originally presented, it seemed to me that Mr. McNally had made an offer that Mr. Corden could accept by providing the requisite public apology. After all, Mr. McNally owns the restaurant, and he certainly has the ability to feed Mr. Corden for ten years if he so wishes. Moreover, Mr. McNally might be playing up this little drama for all its worth in terms of free publicity for his restaurant, so perhaps ten years of enhanced notoriety is something Mr. McNally desires for his restaurant. If Mr. Corden is indeed as mercurial as Buzzfeed would have us believe, tourists might flock to the restaurant in the hope of seeing the next episode in this food fight.
On the other hand, this is not the first offer Mr. McNally has made in this exchange, and he quickly clarified that his first offer was a joke. Does that make us more inclined to view this second offer as a joke, or should we read the absence of a disclaimer in the second offer as signaling sincere intent to enter into legal relations?
Now, the New York Times has weighed in, stressing that Mr. Corden has a reputation to maintain if he wants to enjoy continued success as a "relatable" host. Mr. Corden has issued an apology. Despite noting that his order was messed up three times, including in a way that would have triggered his wife's allergies, Mr. Corden uttered the magic words, "I made a sarcastic, rude comment . . . It was an unnecessary comment. . . . It was ungracious." The Times story does not address the possible unilateral offer. Mr. Corden likely will give Balthazar a wide berth.
I advise readers to exercise caution when ordering an egg-yolk omelette at Balthazar.