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Jimmy Kimmel says he misjudged how people would react to a comedy bit he conceived for the Emmy Awards — one that ended up distracting from Abbott Elementary creator Quinta Brunson’s win for comedy writing.
Appearing on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM show Wednesday, Kimmel said he regrets taking focus from Brunson in the moment.
Kimmel and Will Arnett presented the Emmy for best writing for a comedy series, with Arnett dragging the Jimmy Kimmel Live host onstage and explaining Kimmel had had a few drinks after his show’s loss to Last Week Tonight With John Oliver for best variety talk series.
“How I visualized this happening is he drags me out, we read the winner, and then I’m just basically just out of the shot, and it’s not really a factor,” Kimmel told Stern. “But the stage was very different. The stage was like a catwalk. So, I was kind of in the way, in a way I didn’t imagine.”
Kimmel continued lying onstage as Brunson accepted her award, which caused a backlash among some viewers, who felt it was disrespectful to her.
“Some people read racial stuff into this, and everybody has their own perspective, but the fact of the matter is … this was a plan I had no matter who [won].”
Kimmel also said he and Brunson had “a nice conversation” backstage after her win and that he didn’t learn about the reaction to the stunt until after the awards ended. “I do understand that,” he said. “It did take away — especially afterward — because then she had to answer questions about that instead of just celebrating her Emmy.”
Brunson was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! two days after the Emmys, and he apologized to her, saying, “I’m sorry I did do that, actually. And also, the last thing I would ever want to do was upset you because I think so much of you.”
Watch the Stern segment below.
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