Anyway, I was reading American GQ the other day and one of its features was an interview with him about the Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien contretemps of earlier this year.
(For those of you who, quite reasonably, don’t keep up with late night American chat show shenanigans, here’s a brief background: in America, there are a bunch of chat shows every evening from 11:30 (I have no idea why they’re on so late or why so many people watch at this hour). Each major channel has one but the biggie is NBC’s The Tonight Show. It was fronted by Johnny Carson for 30 years then there was a big hoo-haa in 1993 about who would take over from him on a permanent basis. The choice was between the regular stand-in, Jay Leno, and one of the most successful hosts on another channel, David Letterman. Eventually, Jay got the job, leaving Letterman (very pissed off) to continue on CBS to this day. Aaaanyway…fast forward to 2004 and a formal agreement is in place for Conan O’Brien, host of the 12:30-1:30 slot to move up and take Jay’s place in five years’ time (2009). The time comes and The move duly happens, with Jay moving his own chat show to 10pm. Alas, the move is a bit of a disaster for NBC: low ratings for Jay’s show lead to low rating for the following news programme and consequent low ratings for Conan’s show (people might also have liked Conan less than Jay on the Tonight Show, but Jay’s show tanking didn’t help). Double aaaaanyway… After seven months of this, Jay suggests to NBC that they give him The Tonight Show back and elbow Conan out of the way. NBC says yes and finds itself in the weird position of having to run the end of Conan’s time as host while he takes the piss out of them):
It was, after all, a shitty thing for both Jay and NBC to do (Conan would like to emphasise that as this is a dispute between multimillionaires, he does not deserve anyone’s sympathy), but Jay is the big boy here with a couple of decades on the primero chat show in the States under his belt, so the network decided to side with him.
So this is where Jimmy Kimmel comes in. I have no idea if he’s friends with Conan or not (if any American readers can shed any further light on this situation, do comment), but as another late night host, he thought Leno was a fucking cock for what he did, so he started to express that thusly:
So when Jay saw that (which was fucking cool IMHO), he and his people thought it’d be a good idea to get Jimmy on his show and show the world that they were ‘buddies’. Didn’t work. Did. Not. Fucking. Work. (this is the best, bravest, most heart warming thing I’ve seen in ages. The skill with which he tears Leno a new anus is quite stunning. The best bit is from about 2:20):
There are loads of other clips of further fighting and sniping and Conan’s leaving speech and Conan now getting higher ratings than Leno etc. Please feel free to check out more of the story.
But back to Kimmel.
In an industry where people can be arseholes but no one calls anyone on it for fear of ruffling the wrong feathers, Kimmel came out and made it quite clear he thought Leno was a cunt. He stuck up for doing the right thing (here’s where an American reader who knows more about him tells me he’s otherwise a wanker) and I love that.
Plus, he would appear to be very funny:
And that’s why I *heart* Jimmy Kimmel.