Jimmy Kimmel's Baby Helped End Dad's Longtime Feud With Jay Leno

Jimmy Kimmel - Getty - H 2017
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The longtime feud between Jimmy Kimmel and Jay Leno is over, Kimmel tells THR's Scott Feinberg in a new Awards Chatter podcast. "Jay and I have made peace," says Kimmel, a fan and friend of David Letterman's who had voiced distaste for his hero's rival Leno. "After my son had his operation, he called me and he was very nice." (In a May monologue, the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host spoke of his son, William "Billy" John, having emergency heart surgery just days after he was born to correct a heart defect.)

Clearly touched by the connection, Kimmel returned the favor: "You can't argue with [Leno's] success and his longevity. I will say, when I was in high school and college, he was one of my all-time favorite comics." 

Having some distance from the feud — which once had Leno taking jabs by alleging that he had a "mean streak," while Kimmel once said "fuck him" of Leno to a New York audience — seems to have helped Kimmel realize why it started in the first place. "You have to remember how much I love David Letterman. When all that stuff happened, I was just a fan, reading Bill Carter's book [1994's The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno, and the Network Battle for the Night.] and there was a villain and a hero, and Dave was the hero and Jay was the villain. I started off with a negative feeling about it. I sometimes insert myself into situations I have no business inserting myself into."

A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.