Jimmy Kimmel's talk show hits 1,000 episodes

Wed Apr 2, 2008 2:58am EDT
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By Ray Richmond

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - After five years at the helm of his own talk show, comedian Jimmy Kimmel is no longer "Jimmy Who?"

ABC is celebrating the 1,000th episode of his late-night mainstay, "Jimmy Kimmel Live," with a 90-minute special on Thursday, beginning at 11:35 p.m. (EDT/PDT).

Kimmel's ratings may be so-so, and it's not exactly the first stop on the late-night celebrity circuit, but the show has clearly struck a chord with younger adults, who respond to the host's low-key hip approach.

Up until his show's January 26, 2003, debut, Kimmel was best known as co-host and writer of "The Man Show," Comedy Central's raunchy celebration of the testosterone set. By his own admission, "Jimmy Kimmel Live" got off to a wobbly start, "when many days we booked our main guest at 5 in the afternoon."

Kimmel says both he and his show were perhaps trying too hard because of his inexperience at the game.

"I didn't understand the niceties of being a talk show host, what I was supposed to do and how to handle things," he recalls.

"Every interview turned out to be my last with almost everyone. I'm still cleaning up a lot of that mess from the first three months of the show. We forced the Rock, Dwayne Johnson, to ride a dogsled out onto the stage. He didn't want to. My producer didn't want to hear that. It became an unpleasant thing. We were overly aggressive with people. You can't do that and build any kind of goodwill. Fortunately, I think we've turned it around."

Indeed, the A-list has come calling, reports executive producer Jill Leiderman.   Continued...

<p>Comedian Jimmy Kimmel hosts the "2007 ESPY Awards" in Hollywood July 11, 2007. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>