Jimmy Kimmel on His Big Move to 11:35, Hiring Plans and 'Tonight Show' Cuts (Q&A)

Jimmy Kimmel Episodic - H 2012

Jimmy Kimmel Episodic - H 2012

With a new contract and a coveted time slot, the "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" host refrains from Leno bashing as he discusses his idol, his plan and why all of this is happening now.

Just in time for Jimmy Kimmel Live!'s 10th anniversary, the late-night show is getting its long-awaited bump from midnight to 11:35 p.m.

The shift, which comes as host Jimmy Kimmel extends his contract for two more years, pits the ABC show against CBS' Late Show With David Letterman, NBC's The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. JKL will move into the slot beginning Jan. 8, pushing popular news entry Nightline to 12:35 a.m. (As part of the shuffle, Nightline will get an additional hour of primetime programming at 10 p.m. Fridays beginning in March.)

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Kimmel, 44, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the new time slot, a bigger staff and just how long he plans to stick around. 

The Hollywood Reporter: So, you've been waiting a long time for this. How does it feel?

Kimmel: It’s exciting. It’s a little bit scary but very exciting.

THR: In what way is it scary?

Kimmel: Well, you know, we’ve been doing pretty well in our late-night time slot. They say change is good, but they’re not always right.

THR: Why now?

Kimmel: Part of it was that I had a contract negotiation coming up, so I think that was probably more of it than anything. But I also think that the general momentum of the show compelled them to do this. The White house Correspondents Dinner was a good thing, and there have been a few other things along the way that made the people who have been pushing for this at ABC feel like they were doing the right thing.

THR: How long do you foresee staying at ABC?

Kimmel: I think another 10 years would be great, and would be enough. Although I’m not presumptuous that they will keep me on for another 10 years, but I think that’s what I’d like to do.

THR: Do you plan to tweak your show at all given the higher-profile slot and increased competition?

Kimmel: I really don’t know. I don’t think so because I’m not really capable of doing anything other than what I do. I think it’ll be pretty much the same, but hopefully we’ll have a little more fuel in the tank as far as staff and ability to do things go.

THR: As in you’re planning to hire more people?

Kimmel: Hopefully. We operate with much smaller crew than most late-night shows, so we haven’t figured everything out. But we’re hoping to beef things up a little bit.

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THR: You’ll now be going head-to-head with your longtime idol, David Letterman. Any thoughts?

Kimmel: It’s a little bit strange, but we’ve been competing in one form or another for almost 10 years now, and it seems like we have a peaceful coexistence. We wouldn’t have our show if it weren’t for him. Had I not been influenced so strongly by him, this is not something I would have ever thought about doing.

THR: Can we assume you appreciate the irony in your show moving up a half-hour and beefing up its staff as your rival Jay Leno is suffering from cuts on his?

Kimmel: Honestly, I do feel bad. No matter who it is, I hate to see people losing their jobs. I really do. This is a business, obviously. I don’t know what goes on there, but I find it hard to believe that that show doesn’t still make a lot of money for that network.

THR: Looking ahead to this season, what would you like to do, and who would like to have on the show who hasn't been on yet?

Kimmel: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t even know what we’re doing on the show tonight. We play it as it comes, and when we have an idea we get excited about it and try to act on it as quickly as we can. But as far as big plans go, I’ve never had any, and I still don’t. I just have to get through the Emmys; that’s my goal.

Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose