The Washington Post

Jimmy Kimmel celebrates beating Leno and Letterman in the ratings — with TV critics

Jimmy Kimmel (Richard Cartwright/AP)

Standing on his new set in his Hollywood studio Kimmel announced 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 timeslot — about 3.2 million viewers — beating both Dave and Jay.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live’s” Thursday telecast and Tuesday’s debut in its new timeslot 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 No. 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 any more,” 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 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 then Kimmel 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.

Asked who was the one most special celebrity guest he’d like to have on the show now that he’s a big deal in late night TV, Kimmel responded, “Our Lord Jesus — and yet, he’s with us every night.”



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