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TV Column: Kimmel, king for a night

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PASADENA, Calif. — The morning ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel learned he beat both David Letterman and Jay Leno in his new 11:35 p.m. time slot, he celebrated with TV critics, insisting that when the dust settles he thinks he’ll be the No. 3-rated talk show host in the time slot.

Standing on his new set in his Hollywood studio, Kimmel announced that his faux-nemesis, Matt Damon, would finally make his first official guest appearance on the show Jan. 24.

“May God help Damon if he dares show his stupid face,” Kimmel said in Friday’s announcement.

The night before, Kimmel snagged his biggest audience since moving to the earlier time slot — about 3.2 million viewers — beating both Dave and Jay.

Thursday’s telecast of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and Tuesday’s debut in its new time slot are two of the show’s three most-watched episodes ever.

More important to ABC, which sells 18-to-49-year-old viewers to advertisers, Thursday’s crowd of 3.2 mil included about 1.2 million in the age bracket — besting both Jay and Dave, neither of whom broke a million in the demo.

“You were Number 1 last night!” one critic shouted in the mob that surrounded Kimmel.

“Yeah — don’t get used to it,” Kimmel responded smoothly, explaining, “you really can’t ignore the [“Tonight” show] legacy ingrained” in viewers.

“Truth is, Johnny Carson retired with the crown — there is no king of late night anymore,” Kimmel insisted, when critics tried to get him to gloat over his Thursday numbers. He said he looks at the numbers but doesn’t think about them much.

One critic asked him how it felt to be “killing Dave.”

“I’m not killing Dave,” Kimmel shot back, noting that Letterman’s numbers are exactly what they were before “Nightline” got bumped to make way for Kimmel’s show.

Most nights at the end of his broadcast, Kimmel signs off with an apology to Damon for running out of time. Damon, you’ll recall, recorded a music video with Kimmel’s then-girlfriend, Sarah Silverman, in which Damon and Silverman recounted the many places they’d had sex behind Kimmel’s back.

Kimmel responded with his own video in which he bragged of similar exploits with Ben Affleck — which, Kimmel told critics Friday morning, was a watershed moment in his ABC late-night career.

Spears quits ‘X Factor’

Britney Spears has finally confirmed what Fox would not acknowledge Thursday: She’s leaving the network’s struggling singing competition “The X Factor” after just one season.

“I had an incredible time doing the show and I love the other judges . . . but it’s time for me to get back in the studio,” Spears said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

Spears — who was reportedly paid around $15 million — failed to deliver the erratic-pop-star behavior people tuned in to see. Instead, they got a taxidermied pop star with a limited vocabulary — “amazing” and one or two other words. Ratings tumbled even further and, for the first time, the show got clobbered by NBC’s singing competition, “The Voice.”

To read more from Winter TV Press Tour 2013, go to washingtonpost.com/tvblog.

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