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This story first appeared in the Sept. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Earlier this year, Jimmy Kimmel roasted President Obama at the White House Correspondents dinner. Now, as Emmys host, he’ll get his shot at Hollywood. Here, Kimmel — whose ABC late-night show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, is nominated for its first time in the variety series category — talks about hosting advice from Garry Shandling, the key to a good (and bad!) awards-show acceptance speech and two things he’ll do if JKL wins the Emmy.
The Hollywood Reporter: Hosting these awards shows is an honor; it can also be a pretty thankless job. Why say yes?
Jimmy Kimmel: Before I started working on it, it seemed like a lot more fun. Everything like this is like that. I guess you have to take opportunities and chances or else you stagnate and die.
THR: You’re famous for your upfront performance in which you jab your own network as well as others. Should ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee be as nervous Sept. 23 as he is each May during the upfronts?
Kimmel: No. We’ll spread the jabs around. I’m definitely going to poke a little bit of fun. The network upfront is a four-day parade of bullshit, and I think I make for a nice little break in the middle of that; whereas this is a three-hour award show, although sometimes it seems longer, and people are pretty excited to be there, and I don’t want to detract from that.
THR: What’s the key to a good Emmy acceptance speech?
Kimmel: Real emotion is good — or doing a good job of faking real emotion. Just a little bit of crying is nice, especially if you’re a woman. It’s nice to thank your family. I like when people tell their kids to go to bed at the end. I think it’s important to pace yourself. A lot of times, people spend a lot of time thanking their agent and hairdresser, and then all of a sudden they have to jam their teachers and parents into the very end of the speech. So think it out a little bit beforehand, people. I think that’s the key.
THR: And the key to a bad one?
Kimmel: I think showing hostility is a bad call. And I’ve seen it before where people see winning the award as some sort of vindication for them. We don’t need to know that. You don’t need to exorcise your personal demons onstage. Just smile, take your award and go to the party. Also, asking for a raise is a bad idea onstage. At least wait until the next day.
THR: Who are the easiest targets that night? Jay Leno? Honey Boo Boo? The cast of Downton Abbey?
Kimmel: Nobody has been ruled out.
THR: You have a long history of bringing big stars in for cameos. Should we expect Oprah Winfrey or Matt Damon to pop up?
Kimmel: I’m working on something that will have stars and will be pretty funny. That’s all I can tell you.
THR: Past years have been big on song-and-dance numbers. Will we see you sing and dance?
Kimmel: No, there will no singing or dancing. And there will definitely be less dancing than there will be singing.
THR: The Oscars have had a lot of trouble booking a host in recent years. Why do you think that is? And why is it that so many have struggled to do it well?
Kimmel: I just think a lot is expected at the Oscars. And just the idea of putting on a tuxedo tightens everyone up. These women are filled with pins, and those fake breast stickers that they put on …
THR: Fake breast stickers?
Kimmel: Those glue-on chicken-cutlet things that protect you. You know what I’m talking about? And it’s kind of the pinnacle of a lot of people’s lives, and everyone is very nervous.
THR: Are the Emmys easier to host?
Kimmel: I think the Emmys are a bit looser; I don’t know if they’re easier. At the Emmys, you’ve got a bunch of people who are used to being on TV on TV. You don’t have that at the Oscars. At the Oscars, you have people who are used to having 40 takes.
THR: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received?
Kimmel: Garry Shandling [who hosted the Emmys in 2000, 2003 and 2004] gave me very good advice. He said: “You’re going to have a lot of good ideas. You just need to choose between them, don’t try to jam them all into one show.”
THR: Jimmy Kimmel Live is nominated for the first time. Have you prepared an acceptance speech? And if not, will you?
Kimmel: No. (Laughs.) I know it’s something I will goof on people for not doing, but this is our first year ever being nominated, and I don’t think it’s even slightly reasonable. So, that’s not going to be something that I sit down to do. I think that I would be too ashamed of myself to write out a list.
THR: If you do win, what will you do?
Kimmel: We’re not going to win, so I have no plans whatsoever. But if we do, I will cry like a baby and soil myself.
THR: When they open the envelope at the end of the night, which series would you like to be there?
Kimmel: I really love Breaking Bad, and I think Girls is a great new show, and it would be nice to see it get acclaim.
THR: Is there a show that was not nominated that you would have liked to have seen nominated?
Kimmel: I’d say Louie because I really enjoy that show. And The Office. John Krasinski is very underrated. I don’t understand why he hasn’t been nominated.
THR: Anything else I should be asking you?
Kimmel: I should be asking you questions because I’m still trying to figure out what the f– I’m going to say onstage.
- Andre Braugher
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- Giancarlo Esposito Michael J. Fox
- Jon Hamm
- Ron Howard
- Lucy Liu
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- Julianne Moore
- Kiefer Sutherland
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