A big change is coming to late-night television.
Maybe it’s not as thunderous as the cancellation of a show or the introduction of a new host, but it’s significant, especially for a part of the broadcast day where there aren’t many moves. And “move” is the operative word: Starting Tuesday, Jan. 8, ABC shifts “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to an earlier start time, with the newsmagazine “Nightline” following an hour later.
Jimmy Kimmel, whose talk show has aired since 2003, now will go head to head against CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” and NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” The amiable Kimmel tells Zap2it he’s “mostly just sick of talking about myself,” having done much of that in the weeks leading up to the change, “I’m anxious to get back to normal. It’s been a very busy year, and even though we’re moving, it’s still the show as usual. It’s a lot easier when you can just focus on that.”
For all the attendant hype of a new start time, Kimmel muses, “I feel like I’m disappointing people when they ask me what I will do differently. If there was some secret way of drastically improving the show, I would have done it years ago, but it really doesn’t work like that. It’s a gradual process. We may have a slightly improved set, but otherwise, it basically will be the same show.”
The pushed-back start for “Nightline” — which is anchored by Cynthia McFadden, Terry Moran and Bill Weir and will get a weekly prime-time edition this spring — comes as that program regularly has won its about-to-be-former time period. “That’s a half-hour show being compared to hourlong shows,” Kimmel notes. “There’s no way we’ll match that half-hour number they’ve been getting. It’s not like a prime-time situation, and a lot of people don’t seem to understand that.
“I think we’ll have to fight that perception at the beginning, but I really don’t know how well we’re going to do. There certainly are projections. People seem to think we’ll do well, or they wouldn’t put us on in that spot … but nobody knows for sure.”