At the beginning of 2003 there were two men fighting for ABC's dignity in late-night TV. And wouldn't you know it, the considerably less funny Ted Koppel is long gone, while Jimmy Kimmel is proudly celebrating his first prime-time special. Airing tonight at 10 pm/ET, Jimmy Kimmel Live's All-Star Salute to Jimmy Kimmel Live! will feature clip highlights, an appearance by Ben Stiller... and likely lots of airtime for Guillermo, the show's parking-lot security guard, who's in more comedy sketches than half of SNL's cast. On his way into work, Kimmel spoke with TVGuide.com by phone about his show's renewal through 2008, his new game show, and of course, Star Jones.
TVGuide.com: When Jimmy Kimmel Live first premiered, you bucked late-night talk-show conventions by, for instance, not wearing a tie.
Jimmy Kimmel: I just didn't feel like wearing a tie. Ultimately, my neck looks better in a tie. I'm not exactly Nicole Richie to start with, and when you wear an open-necked collar, you look about 20 pounds heavier than you actually are. I mean, every single day people come up to me and go, "Wow, you lost weight!" and I always say, "No, I've weighed pretty much exactly the same for the last, like, seven years" and they just can't believe it.
TVGuide.com: How much do you weigh?
Kimmel: I weigh 205 pounds, give or take an ounce. [And I'm] 6-foot-1.
TVGuide.com: That's not so bad.
Kimmel: No, it's not too bad. But you're surprised, right? [Laughs] But I would be happy to be weighed just to prove it.
TVGuide.com: Ironically, one of my favorite moments from the show this year was when Jared Leto talked about gaining weight for a role by microwaving and drinking pints of Häagen-Dazs, and you said, "What, you're not supposed to do that?"
Kimmel: [Laughs] Yeah, he was insufferable, that kid. Perhaps the most obnoxious guest we've ever had on the show. It's funny, because last night we had a conversation about it, and we all agreed that he was the worst. He was so full of himself I was almost laughing at him during the segment.
TVGuide.com: Another proud moment for you must have been when you exchanged chewing gum with Regis.
Kimmel: Well, actually what happened was Jordana Brewster was on the show and she had gum. So I made her take it out, and then I made some joke about how I would chew that gum because she's very attractive and then Regis dared me to do it. So I did it, and then I dared Regis to chew my gum. And he did, without hesitation. I have to say, that's probably the coolest move ever by a guest on the show. I mean, Regis was a then 74-year-old man.... He doesn't need to chew my gum. It was an act of love, I'd like to think.
TVGuide.com: Your security guard, Guillermo, does a lot of comedy bits on the show sketches, red-carpet interviews.... How did he transition to being an on-air personality?
Kimmel: Well, he was our parking-lot security guard he still is, actually and, um [Breathing heavy]... I'm sorry, I'm out of breath, I just climbed two flights of stairs. I'm fat on the inside if not on the outside. [Anyway] our announcer, Dickie, and our warm-up guy, Don, got a real kick out of Guillermo because sometimes they'd go out after work and Guillermo would be sleeping in Dickie's car. So I decided to talk to him on the air one night and he was just funny right off the bat. He's got a tremendous amount of charisma.
TVGuide.com: He must have a SAG card or something by now.
Kimmel: Oh, yeah. Well, I had to tell him he had to quit his job as a waiter at the Sportsman's Lodge. I was like, "Guillermo, we're paying you a lot of money so that we don't have to work around your schedule as a waiter." He was like, "But I do it for the insurance, Jimmy!" I said, "Guillermo, I told you a million times, you have insurance here with AFTRA." It's crazy! We had a big shoot scheduled this morning for 11 o'clock, and he said he couldn't do it because he had to work as a waiter at this restaurant in the Valley! Hopefully he's in there quitting right now.
TVGuide.com: You get away with asking questions that aren't exactly celebrity-friendly. What was one of your most surprising reactions?
Kimmel: Well, probably the most unpleasant of those was with Vivica A. Fox. In fairness, I bamboozled her the first time she was on the show because she told me she was in Star Jones' wedding. And she didn't know of any history between me and Star. Not that I've ever met the woman it's all on-air television history but the woman despises me. So I said, "Do you have a date for the wedding?" and she said, "No." I said, "Can I come with you?" And she's like, "Yeah. Sure. Absolutely!" I thought, "This is gonna be great! If I show up at that wedding, Star Jones is gonna explode!" So the next day, apparently, Star gets word and chews out Vivica. So the next time [Vivica] comes on the show, she is not happy. It was excruciatingly uncomfortable and also one of the most enjoyable segments I've ever done. I love discomfort like that. I relish it.
TVGuide.com: You have both your Uncle Frank and Aunt Chippy, who are divorced, on the show for various comedy segments. Do you think the show will bring them back together again?
Kimmel: Oh, no, absolutely not. In a way, it has brought them together as much as they possibly can because while my Uncle Frank is very fond of my Aunt Chippy, she would definitely lock him in the garage and leave the car running if they were to spend more than a week of time together.
TVGuide.com: You're going to be doing your own game show this fall called Set for Life. What's your schedule going to be like now?
Kimmel: I shot them all already. We taped 10 episodes [of Set for Life] in, like, four days. I was not looking forward to doing it. They really had to twist my arm to get me to do it. But then when I did it, after the first one I thought, "This show's probably going to be a hit." It's pretty good. It's dramatic and it gives me a lot of opportunity to screw with the contestants. I think people are going to like it.
TVGuide.com: Now that you won't be canceled until at least 2008, what are your goals for Jimmy Kimmel Live?
Kimmel: I just want the show to keep getting better. I think that the show is a lot better than it was when we started, and I think it's a lot better than it was six months ago. Hopefully in six months I'll look back and say, "That show is garbage. Why did I think we were doing well?"
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