BWW Interview: JIMMY KIMMEL On Going Head-to-Head With Jay Leno
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One comedian who probably would not make the cut is Jay Leno, who Kimmel believes cheated Letterman out of his rightful place as successor to Johnny Carson as host of NBC's 'Tonight Show' "...to take something from someone that I admired, I mean, that's what did it for me, I guess. And this scheming seems to have continued. But, you know, listen, Jay's just another guy doing a T.V. show. I don't hate him or anything like that...the fact of the matter is NBC is going to have to make a decision, at some point. I mean, as much as he would like it to be the case, Jay Leno is not going to be able to stay on television forever. And, obviously, I think Jimmy Fallon is the heir apparent and he's doing a great show and so it makes sense that people would talk like this. But, you know, with that said, never count Jay out. He's a - he's like Jason in "Friday the 13th." He seems to pop up just when you think he's dead. He comes back to life. And he's got a hatchet!"
Asked how long he sees himself hosting his late night gig, Kimmel affirms he has no intention of becoming a 'lifer'. "I'm not going to be one of those guys that they have to drag off the stage. I mean, I look at it now and I think, you know, if we were lucky enough to be able to do another 10 years, I would be very happy with that. But with that said, you never know. You get there, I mean, and there seems to be some addiction that takes hold and people are unwilling to give these jobs up. But, you know, sometimes I do think about being able to just relax and read the sports page in its entirety again."
Earning his seat behind the host desk did not come easy to Kimmel who dispences this advice for those interested in pursuing a similar career path, "I worked for two and a half years for free in radio before I got a job in radio, and it's so rare that you see young people that are willing to do anything to be a part of a T.V. or radio show. I mean, it really - it is rare. And if you really devote your life to impressing the people that you work with and do whatever you have to do to impress them, whether it means running and getting coffee or washing their car or going on the air, if you're working with good people, hopefully they won't take advantage of you and hopefully they will recognize that. I mean, I just - I don't see how you can go wrong interning and doing everything you can to impress the people around you."
Finally, when asked who he would most like to compete against in the late night arena if he had his druthers, Kimmel offers, "If I had my pick of the litter, I think I'd rather - I think I'd want to compete against, Mario Lopez," he quips, but quickly reconsiders, "wouldn't that be embarrassing when he kicked my ass? "
Now in its tenth season, "JKL" is packed with hilarious comedy bits and features a diverse lineup of guests including celebrities, athletes, musicians, comedians and humorous human interest subjects. Every night Kimmel delivers his up-to-the minute take on the latest news and pop culture topics from the day's events in his monologue, and has recently welcomed such notables as First Lady Michelle Obama, Halle Barry, Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Robert Pattinson, Katy Perry, Will Farrell, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Charlize Theron, John Krasinski, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Justin Bieber, Jessica Simpson, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Andy Samberg, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Charlie Sheen, Chris Pine, Jeremy Renner, Jada Pinkett Smith, Josh Brolin, Russell Brand, Woody Harrelson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
"JKL's" recurring cast of characters include Kimmel's childhood best friend and bandleader Cleto Escobedo, security guard Guillermo Rodriguez, Kimmel's Cousin Sal, and Kimmel's feisty Aunt Chippy. The late-night show's famed comedy segments include "Jimmy Kimmel Lie Detective" and "JKL's" YouTube challenges. "JKL" also features a weekly signature comedy segment entitled "Unnecessary Censorship," which pokes fun at the FCC's crackdown on the media by unnecessarily censoring clips from TV news, political speeches, reality TV and nature shows. The show has also welcomed numerous esteemed guest directors to oversee individual episodes of the program, including J.J. Abrams, Quentin Tarantino, Michel Gondry and Jon Favreau.
In addition to the nightly show, "Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Academy Awards" annual specials have proven to be the destination for debuting the show's signature comedy pieces such as "I'm F**king Ben Affleck," "Handsome Men's Club," "Hottie Body Hump Club," Tom Hanks' "Toddlers and Tiaras" and "Movie: The Movie," all which have become huge viral successes, garnering millions of hits on YouTube.
Kimmel has also created many one-of-a-kind concert experiences, closing down Hollywood streets around his studio to hold musical block party events with artists such as Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and Depeche Mode, as well as special outdoor and lobby performances by Adele, Linkin Park, Justin Timberlake, Drake, Tony Bennett, Pitbull, Britney Spears, Lady Antebellum, Usher, Lenny Kravitz, Brad Paisley, Lil Wayne, Phoenix, 50 Cent, No Doubt and Dave Matthews Band.
Jimmy Kimmel and Jill Leiderman serve as executive producers. Jason Schrift, Douglas DeLuca and Erin Irwin serve as co-executive producers. "Jimmy Kimmel Live" is shot live in front of a studio audience at Disney's El Capitan Theater, located on Hollywood Boulevard in the heart of L.A. and is produced by Jackhole Industries in association with ABC Studios. For more go to www.jimmykimmellive.com; also a "Jimmy Kimmel Live" app is available via iTunes.
Photo credit: Jeff Neira/ABC