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Beleaguered Toronto Mayor Rob Ford made the trip to Los Angeles — only to have Jimmy Kimmel have the last laugh.
It’s no secret Kimmel had been intent on booking the disgraced mayor on his show, spawned in part by footage of Ford walking head-first into a video camera. One day before the Oscars, the late-night host personally picked Ford up at LAX, something Kimmel joked he didn’t even do for his mother.
Ford was dressed in an all-black tux with a bright red tie and handkerchief (like a “magician,” Kimmel joked) and threw shirts into the audience as he made his dramatic entrance. Moments after he sat down, Kimmel cut right to the chase: “Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that you are here, but why are you here? What good could come of this? Have you ever seen this show?” That would set the tone for the rest of the interview, which spanned three segments and included queries about a supposed video of Ford smoking crack cocaine.
Kimmel cold-called Ford personally, after the mayor publicly gave out his private number, to invite him on Jimmy Kimmel Live! “and imagine my shock when you answered the phone and said, ‘Yeah, OK, I’ll come out there.’ ” Ford’s response? “Absolutely, I’m all about customer service.” Kimmel fired back: “Yeah, but I’m not even a customer.” Kimmel wasn’t polite with his questioning, asking the rotund Ford at one point, “Realistically, how high can you jump?” after Ford explained his desire to be a good public official. “You’d be surprised with how fast I can move,” Ford replied, to audience laughs.
Kimmel wasn’t shy about telling Ford how disliked he was — even with the city’s residents he serves — rattling off viewer backlash he had received since announcing that Ford would be a guest (“abusive exploiter,” “very sick, very bad man” were just some of the descriptors used by Toronto residents in notes Kimmel read), in addition to accusations that Ford was homophobic and racist. “Is there any validity to any of this?” Kimmel asked. “Is that all they have?” Ford asked. “I have a lot,” Kimmel said, laughing. “You may have set a record.” When Kimmel asked Ford point-black if he was homophobic, Ford expectedly denied it. “If you had more gay friends, they would not have let you wear that tie,” Kimmel said, offering to send him unmarked ties. “If they end up around your neck, then so be it.”
As for the many apologies Ford has had to make during his recent troubles, he said that he has moved past them. “The apologies are over. I’m moving on. People are going to judge me on a proven track record and that’s why I’m down here,” he assured. “I want people to come to Toronto.” It was only those moments when Ford spoke highly of the Canadian city that the audience — which included some Toronto residents — cheered.
Kimmel contrasted Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, whom he called “a great guy,” with Ford’s outlandish behavior. While he painted Garcetti as the model mayor, unattractive photos of Ford were displayed with a milk mustache, dancing with scantily-clad women in costume and devouring huge barbecue ribs. “Can you talk to him? It’s enough already,” Kimmel urged.
At one point, Ford was sweating so much that Kimmel broke from his line of questioning to grab a piece of Kleenex. “Do you mind if I dab you, Mr. Mayor? I’ll auction this off on eBay. Actually, I’m going to take this DNA and I’m going to clone you and we’re going to have a whole army of you in L.A.,” Kimmel said.
During the second segment, Kimmel broadcast damaging videos of Ford on a television screen, including one that had Ford doing a Jamaican accent (“I would love to take you there for spring break sometime,” Kimmel retorted), miming someone drinking and driving and another where Ford tackled a woman. At times, Ford looked uncomfortable, shuffling away from the screen as Kimmel asked for explanations. But not all of the videos were controversial: One showed Ford falling down during a football game, while another had him throwing candy canes at children during Christmas “as if you were feeding birds,” Kimmel said.
In what was perhaps one of the more sincere moments, Kimmel asked Ford if he had an alcohol and drug problem: “Maybe that’s something you want to think about, like trying to talk to somebody.” Ford, who is running for re-election for Toronto mayor in October, told Kimmel: “I wasn’t elected to be perfect, Jimmy. I was elected to clean up a mess.” (Ford later invited Kimmel to appear on his own show, Ford Nation.)
Ford’s brother Doug on Tuesday morning told reporters at Toronto City Hall that the Jimmy Kimmel Live! appearance was scripted, the Toronto Sun reports. The mayor’s brother added Kimmel didn’t give the Ford enough time to promote Toronto, as his Los Angeles visit intended. “We wanted to pump Toronto more,” Doug insisted.
“You picked a really good night to be here” was how Kimmel opened Monday’s show, which kicked off a little past 6:15 p.m. PT. “I feel like I’ve been waiting for this night my whole life. I have a lot to discuss with Mayor Ford. I don’t think I’ve had this many questions since the series finale of Lost.” He also joked that “at some point during the show, I will yell ‘Hey, Kool-Aid!’ and [Ford]’ll come smashing through the wall.” The evening’s guests also included Muppets Most Wanted‘s Gonzo, and Kimmel made a point to mention just how absurd the lineup was on paper: “Rob Ford and Gonzo. Either this is really happening or someone slipped peyote into my preshow chimichanga.”
When Kimmel threw to commercial break ahead of Ford’s interview, the mayor was seen lifting weights. And as Kimmel’s desk was being set up in between segments, he questioned a Fresno, Calif., native — in town to celebrate his 40th birthday. After learning that the man went back to school to study kinesiology, Kimmel joked: “Mayor Ford might need to talk to you.”
The late-night host is coming off another successful post-Academy Awards special Sunday. Just hours before, the ninth annual Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars drew a series high 7 million viewers. Kimmel adapted four viral YouTube hits into star-filled dramatic trailers.
Watch Ford’s interview with Kimmel below.
Etan Vlessing in Toronto contributed to this report.
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