Jay Leno is a legendary comic. Despite a heated rivalry that erupted between him and Jimmy Kimmel, his ABC rival congratulated him on his outstanding success. Kimmel tweeted that “twenty years at number one” is an incredible feat and that he congratulates Leno on the incredible run. The outlandish host also wished the retiring host his best wishes and luck.
In an era of egocentric Hollywood feuds, this was a refreshing and classy gesture made by Jimmy Kimmel. No one can forget the provocative remarks and the insulting comments that were made by the ABC talk show host. In 2010, Kimmel dedicated an entire show to doing impersonations of his NBC adversary, doing so in a tasteless and nasty manner. The comedian donned a floppy gray wig and embellished cleft chin, meant to be a satirical representation of his rival. There was no retaliation made by NBC or The Tonight Show, despite the taunts and jeers made by Kimmel.
The tactics were the first of many, in an onslaught of ridicule. Kimmel was invited to interview on satellite. Instead, Kimmel took the war to the front door of NBC. The late night rival attended The Tonight Show and was interviewed in person. When asked what was the best prank he ever did, Kimmel responded by mentioning his departure from FOX. This embarkation provided an avenue for Bill O’Reilly to anchor his own show. The O’Reilly Factor is one of America’s top rated shows. Kimmel made light of this when he signed his contract with ABC. The bickering and remarks were cast aside and disregarded.
The feud has been long lasting. Many are not ignorant to this fact. The animosity, according to Kimmel, stemmed from Jay Leno taking over The Tonight Show in 1992. Late night host David Letterman was a clear front-runner to replace Carson until the NBC mogul “stole the show”. The sarcastic stand-up further argued that his adversary had not been good at comedy in nearly two decades. Nevertheless, the ratings would argue otherwise.
Leno would further articulate that he does not enjoy engaging in conflicts with other comics. Kimmel’s comments have been brushed off repeatedly and never provoked the host of the top late-night show to act in a fit of rage or anger. Contrary to popular belief, he and David Letterman are very good friends. The two have a classy yet intense competition. However, both men have always been able to keep things in perspective. At the end of the day, both men feel extremely blessed and rewarded to do what they do and the ratings are tertiary to what they hold as primary.
Jimmy Kimmel would come full circle as well. His posting on Twitter is an incredible feat of humility. Despite The Tonight Show dominating the ratings and a nasty feud brewing…Kimmel rose above it. Jay Leno’s final show aired last night at 11:30 PM. Attending the show was fellow comic Billy Crystal and country legend Garth Brooks. To be sure, many more called in to say farewell to a man who has been a staple of comedy and late-night talk shows. Jay Leno’s legendary stature was even noted by Jimmy Kimmel, who could not help but offer his blessing for all he has done for television.
By Keith Fuchs