Jimmy Kimmel on New Time Slot: 'We Were No. 1 Last Night, But Don't Get Used to It'

After posting his best numbers yet in the new 11:35 p.m. time slot, ABC's late-night host talks about Matt Damon's upcoming visit and David Letterman's good-luck call.
Jimmy Kimmel

"We were No. 1 last night, but don't get used to it," quipped Jimmy Kimmel.

His self-deprecating humor was on display Friday as reporters gathered around during a stop on the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Despite strong ratings during his first week in his new 11:35 p.m. time slot, Kimmel said he anticipates sliding back to third place, behind rival Jay Leno and hero David Letterman, noting that the legacy of a late-night show like The Tonight Show cannot be discounted. 

Rather than blast Leno, as he historically has done, Kimmel used the platform to downplay the competitiveness of the late-night genre, revealing that Letterman called him earlier in the week to wish him luck. “People like the drama,” he said, suggesting that it's not the "sporting event" that perhaps the media would like it to be, particularly with more and more hosts having to compete for a piece of a smaller pie in recent years. “Johnny Carson retired with the crown," he added. "There’s no king of late night." 

Kimmel largely kept mum on what he has planned for the new slot -- of which he joked he had been begging ABC brass for since he started at the network a decade ago -- except to say that his faux-enemy Matt Damon would be coming on the show Jan. 24. He hinted that the pair has “something fun” planned but stopped short of sharing details. 

In making the announcement, Kimmel said he had no intention of altering his nightly signoff, in which he apologizes to Damon for running out of time. “We'll keep doing the same nonsense,” he added of a tradition that began during Jimmy Kimmel Live!'s first season. “Matt is almost a good-luck charm for us.”

Kimmel confirmed that he’s planning to host his annual Oscar special, which likely will include another star-studded video. The late-night host credits his early 2008 “I’m F*$king Ben Affleck” video -- a follow-up to his then-girlfriend Sarah Silverman's "I'm F*$king Matt Damon" spoof -- as a major turning point for him and his show, as it was with that video that stars “saw that they'd have an opportunity to be funny” on JKL!

He has had little trouble luring household names in the half-decade or so since, as was evidenced by the collection of A-listers -- George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, among them -- that took part in last year's viral hit Movie: The Movie. “It’s like an actor working with a certain director. If you know they're going to make you look good, you're more inclined to work with them,” he said of attracting talent for these bits, acknowledging that his dream is to have President Obama -- whom he roasted at the 2012 White House Correspondents' Dinner -- take part in one one day.

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