Jimmy Kimmel: L.A.'s King of Late-Night

Jimmy Kimmel
Jimmy Kimmel
Photo by Ryan Orange

One of the fascinating Angelenos featured in L.A. Weekly's People 2014 issue. Check out our entire People 2014 issue.

Jimmy Kimmel shops at Costco. The Hawthorne Costco, near his beach house, is different from the Burbank Costco, near his Hollywood Hills home. "There are beach things there, like volleyballs and surfboards, that they don't have at the Costco in Burbank," he says. He's been to Costco in Hawaii, in Cabo San Lucas.

He also goes to the Hollywood Farmers Market. The Cheese Store of Silver Lake. Surfas restaurant supply store in Culver City. (He owns a paella grill, a La Caja China pig roasting box, a tandoor oven.)

"People assume that I have someone that goes shopping for me," he says. "I have such an odd job that it's nice to go into Smart & Final.

"I almost never relax," he adds. "When I'm running errands I'm only doing one thing, and that's why it's a nice little break."

Kimmel, 46, leans back on a curved red couch in his Hollywood Boulevard office, in a gray suit and navy tie, his white shirt slightly unbuttoned. He's just taped an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live with guests Bill Clinton and Manny Pacquiao.

The space serves as playroom and reliquary. There are clarinets he plays on occasion. Fly fishing practice rods. A treadmill desk. Two sous vide machines. A painting of him by Anna Nicole Smith. A banner saying "Isn't it time?" from a friend, comedian Todd Glass, lobbying to be on the show again. In the bathroom is a freezer full of turkey meatballs.

Jimmy Kimmel: L.A.'s King of Late-Night
Photo by Ryan Orange

On a table is a figurine of scandal-ridden Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in a cage, a reminder of their playful but confrontational interview in March. "It was one of the great nights of my life," Kimmel says. "He was upset after the show, but I think he then calmed down and thought about it, and I think he got over it."

Kimmel can be adversarial, but he feels sick when he hurts someone's feelings. His career hosting for radio and The Man Show gave him a frat-boy rep, "but anyone who knows me knows it's the opposite of what I am," he says. Growing up in Las Vegas, he was the class clown who still got good grades. "You can make fun of people and they don't get mad," is how his mom once pegged his talent.

Ever studious, he has other talk shows transcribed so he doesn't repeat their jokes. But he doesn't like pre-planning his interviews or reading prepared questions. "It tends to be boring," he says. "Most interviews, I don't prepare for."

Last year, ABC pushed Nightline back to give Kimmel its 11:30 p.m. slot. Eleven years in, execs at female-oriented ABC don't bug him as they used to about his male-dominated humor. And The Tonight Show's move to New York does make booking celebrities a little easier for him here in L.A. He speculates he'll make it an even 20 years and move on. As a kid he wanted to be an artist - he might go into his garage and draw cartoons.

But he's not blasé. He believes all celebrities, himself included, really do care what people think. (The exception? Jay Leno, whom he's openly criticized. "I don't think it hurts his feelings," he says. "I don't think he has feelings like that.")

He sees his recurring segment "Mean Tweets," in which stars recite critical tweets about themselves, as part comedy, part public service. One time a few tweeters told him his eyebrows looked overly groomed. "My eyebrows get like John Madden's now," he says. "I'll have crazy Brezhnev eyebrows because of the fucking Internet."  One of the fascinating Angelenos featured in L.A. Weekly's People 2014 issue. Check out our entire People 2014 issue.

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