On Sunday, Jimmy Kimmel will host the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards (ABC, 8 p.m. ET), and he says it’s imperative that you watch: “I am gonna do something very weird during the show. I think it could possibly be the biggest prank ever pulled, as far as number of people involved. Possibly. I haven’t researched it, but it’ll definitely be right up there,” he says. “The audience will be a participant in this. So it’s important that you watch because you’re either going to be in on it or not.”
Will he instruct at-home viewers to tweet that some scandalous thing that just happened at the Emmys, and the people who aren’t watching the show won’t know that it didn’t really happen? “I will say nothing,” Kimmel insists. Let’s see what else we can (or can’t) get out of him.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Jimmy Kimmel Live! received its first nomination for Outstanding Variety Series this year. Have you tried to abuse your position as host by saying it would relieve some of the stress you’ll be experiencing that night if they’d just tell who won that category now?
JIMMY KIMMEL: I will say I am suspicious of everyone around me because every time they say something in regard to scheduling or producing or where this presenter is going to appear, I think it’s a hint of some kind. So, I do wonder if people know. I’ve been told that they don’t know, but the people who tell me they don’t know actually don’t know. I have, of course, been curious, but I really don’t know who’s in on it and who isn’t… And the truth is I really have no power as host. My only power is when I am on live television, and that is when the abuse will come in.
We’re hoping your opening monologue is an extension of your annual no-holds-barred monologue at ABC’s Upfront.
What can I say… I hope it will be funny. That will be a nice surprise for everyone, I think, if it is. Other than that, it’s not like there’s some kind of cliffhanger in the end. You do take the news into account so if something big happens, like if an elderly actor decides to have a conversation with a piece of furniture or something the night before, certainly that would be mentioned.
Are you planning to speak to furniture?
I am not. I feel like that joke has been dissected completely.
I’ve read that you’re planning a surprise that will embarrass your parents, who will be in the audience. Now that that’s out there, how nervous are they?
Well, I hope they don’t know about it. (Laughs) I told a local guy, [KABC’s] George Pennacchio, yesterday, forgetting that there’s an Internet (Laughs). Hopefully that hasn’t been ruined. Luckily my parents can’t read, so it’ll be okay.
What you can tease about the pre-taped videos you’ve been working on?
Nothing! I can’t tell you anything. This seems to be the only show on television that people want to know everything that’s gonna happen before it happens. [Laughs] I feel like I’m being deposed every time I do an interview. Here’s what’s gonna happen: I’m gonna walk out and have a monologue. People are gonna come out, we’re gonna give them their awards. Some of ’em are gonna cry, hopefully, and everybody’s gonna go home mad.
But speaking seriously, I believe it when you say that you want this broadcast to be entertaining from start to finish.
I do, yes. But I think part of that, really, is the structure of the show. I’ve hosted a number of awards shows now, and typically, you’re on at the beginning, and then you’re on again maybe 20 minutes later and then we see you at the end. It’s important, I think, to have the opportunity to speak in case something fun happens. Most hosts don’t get that, just because they start speeding up and then you disappear from the show. So the way [executive producer] Don Mischer has structured the show will allow me to comment or act on things if something worthwhile happens.
How many times will you comment on the fact that Jimmy Kimmel Live! is moving to 11:35 p.m. in January?
Do you think I should? I wasn’t thinking that I’d do that at all, actually. Maybe I should have dancers, each with a number on them that spell out 11:35.
Have you pitched any ideas that producers have shot down?
No, I don’t think they have. They’ve been very open as far as ideas go. I think there’s a respect for the host in that it’s your ass while you’re out there. You get to pick your sword, unless you’ve selected to do something offensive. They will advise you, but I don’t think they’d tell me not to do something.
You are a big TV fan: Name one show that, no matter how many Emmys it has or will win, you will never watch.
Although I do watch Downton Abbey, I was going to say anything produced by the BBC. Maybe it’s my imagination, but every show from England seems to be set in a world 100 years ago. I think they just like wearing costumes. Like, I’ve not seen The Song of Lunch, for instance. I don’t know what that is. And I kinda don’t want to know what it is. Although I’m sure it’s excellent.
Name a show that you’ve pretended to watch even though you really don’t.
(Thinks) There isn’t one. For me it’s the opposite. I pretend I don’t watch shows that I do watch. Every terrible reality show you could imagine. You know what, if Toddlers & Tiaras comes on and I don’t have an appointment of some kind, forget about it. I could be hooked for the whole marathon.