More evidence that The Tonight Show is having a hard time booking guests during this writers strike: last night’s opening guests were a Priest, a Rabbi and a Minister.

Good thing Jimmy Kimmel was Jay Leno‘s next guest.
The Jay/Jimmy love-in last night wasn’t the vent-a-palooza I was hoping for last night but it was interesting nonetheless. The two admitted there had been a falling out and that they hadn’t spoken to each other in six years (Kimmel’s show has been on the air for five). Something to do with how Kimmel complained publicly about how competitive the late shift was and how Tonight was hogging all the good guests. Might also have had something to do with the fact that Kimmel once declared his ambition to be a funny version of Leno.

Not surprisingly, that didn’t come up. Both hosts talked about the writers strike but tip-toed around taking sides. There seemed to be a sense (or an agreement) from both that the audience is sick and tired of strike talk, although there was this jokey exchange: “I miss my writers tremendously,” said Leno. “It’s terrible,” said Kimmel, who then snuck in a shot at how Leno seems to have carried on with his usual monologues. “Will you write some jokes for me? Because it seems like you have plenty.”
Kimmel then brought up the whole deal about big name guests ditching both shows because they don’t want to cross picket lines. “Instead of movie stars, you get the cast from Celebrity Fat Club 5 on the show,” he cracked.
There are advantages though, suggested Leno. “You don’t have to see a lot of stupid movies and pretend they’re good.” Countered Kimmel: “But you have to see stupid reality shows and pretend they’re good. You have to tell the Two Coreys how fantastic they are.”
And so it went. Instead of strike talk, the two hosts took the opportunity to get chummy and personal. We learned, for example, that Kimmel had never been on a motorcycle before Leno rode him over on his chopper between shows. That’s one way to get rid of the agents and publicists.
Later, on Kimmel’s show, we learned that, after 27 years of marriage, Leno and his wife Maris still sleep in the same bed. Fascinating.
Meanwhile, over on David Letterman, the host with the writers countered with one of his biggest draws–Howard Stern. Always edgy and antagonistic, Stern needled Letterman about his never-seen girl friend (“You’re like the Taliban, you keep her hidden away”), hectored him for “selling out” to Oprah and goofed about how antisocial they both are.
He also brought up the fact that Letterman paid his suspended staff out of his own pocket throughout the time the show was off the air, shaming Leno into a similar gesture. “I don’t know anything about that,” Letterman kept saying.
It was vintage Stern, even if Letterman looked like he’d rather be talking to Leno or Kimmel.

1 Comment

  1. hey Bill:
    do you have any sources for more recent late-night ratings?axvp

    everyone was all over how leno beat letterman first week back; very few noted that letterman beat leno (barely) on the monday of the second week back.

    mark farrell

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