For ABC suits who’ve long thought they could make more money in the time period with competitive entertainment programming rather than with news, it’s the culmination of a dream of breaking into the late-night talk-show big league.
But that’s a blink of an eye compared with the 30-some years Kimmel has been working his way toward Tuesday.
“I know moving from midnight to 11:35 might not sound like a big deal — it’s only 25 minutes — but it’s probably the most important 25 minutes of my life, since the first 14 times I had sex,” Kimmel told his audience in August, on the day ABC announced “Jimmy Kimmel Live’s” promotion.
Jay and Dave, meanwhile, have reacted in a very big way to TV’s biggest move of the first quarter.
Leno’s starting his show one minute earlier — at 11:34 p.m. — during Kimmel’s first week in the earlier start time, in hopes of getting a jump on his new competition.
Letterman, on the other hand, paid a visit to Kimmel’s show in the days leading up to the promotion to wish him the best.
Kimmel’s move has been ABC-parent Disney’s best-choreographed debut since “The Lion King” opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway in the late ’90s.
Leading up to the auspicious occasion, Kimmel has been thrust into the spotlight repeatedly for a solid year of star-making.
●In February, he kissed and made up with the longtime object of his ridicule, Oprah Winfrey, on his seventh annual “After the Academy Awards” special, scoring the second-largest crowd in the show’s history — more than 5 million viewers.
●In April, he hosted the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
●In July, his show received its very first Primetime Emmy Award nomination.
●In September, Kimmel hosted the Emmy Awards for the first time and got mostly rave reviews.
●In October, Kimmel — who’s been obsessed with Letterman since he was a youngster and says he only got into TV in hopes of becoming Dave’s friend — took his show to his home town of Brooklyn to kiss Letterman’s ring and wound up staring down Hurricane Sandy from the Brooklyn Academy of Music. For keeping the date, Letterman gave Kimmel his blessing: “I want to wish you the best of luck when you move the show. . . . I couldn’t be happier to have you in the running.”
●In December, Kimmel joined Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Ray Romano to pay homage to Letterman at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony.
On Tuesday, “JKL” will have a shiny new set but will still be located at the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard — its sidewalk chockablock with Frankensteins, Chewbaccas and other adults who have cast aside dignity — the perfect backdrop for Kimmel’s popular man-on-the-street video bits. A handful of new features have been added to the rotation in the weeks leading up to the show’s return from holiday break. Other than that, Kimmel says, they will be “pretty much doing the same show that we’ve been doing.”