This is a story from last week, but I didn’t twig to it until Terry Bradshaw showed up on Kimmel last Friday (I should really start reading the sports section and not just, you know, watch the actual games).
Unfortunately I didn’t see the original incident because when “Monday Night Football” moved from ABC to ESPN (TSN in Canada), I got out of the habit of watching it, and now I’m down to basic cable so I don’t even get it. The story broke in the New York Times, of all places (free registration required):
Jimmy Kimmel’s appearance on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” was his last.
Kimmel, the host of ABC’s late-night talk show, was put on early in the third quarter with the Giants leading the Atlanta Falcons, 21-10, ostensibly to enliven a rout.
He joked about where Joe Theismann was (fired and replaced by Ron Jaworski); cracked that it was Tony Kornheiser who got Theismann axed; asked Kornheiser and Jaworski if they bet on games (they played along); and said, “I’d also like to welcome Joe Theismann, watching from his living room with steam coming from his ears.”
The last remark was ignored by Kornheiser, Jaworski and Mike Tirico.
Jay Rothman, ESPN’s “Monday Night” producer, called Kimmel’s comments “classless and disappointing. It was cheap. The more he went on, the worse he got.”
Kimmel will not be invited back, Rothman said.
Coincidentally, yesterday’s Times carried a profile piece about Kimmel’s show. There was also a good piece about the “Monday Night Football” incident on SI.com, featuring comments from Kimmel:
For a man banned from the most famous sports television property in history, Jimmy Kimmel seemed to be holding up fine Wednesday afternoon. “Technically, couldn’t you say Joe Theismann has also been banned from Monday Night Football?” Kimmel told SI.com in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “If he showed up, they probably would not let him in. I was hoping to get banned from a casino first, but I suppose it’s satisfying in a way to be banned from any television show. I don’t know what I did exactly but apparently it was horrific.”
“As far as sports journalism on television goes, there are so many parties attached to so many other parties that everything you say has major ramifications. When I was at Fox it was the same way. You can’t make fun of Jerry Jones because he’s the head of the committee that decides which network gets the NFL. There are sacred cows and that’s just not honest broadcasting. There really isn’t a place for honesty. That’s why everyone goes so crazy when somebody like Mike Vick does something that is universally reviled. That’s when everyone gets up on their high horse and lambastes him because they know that they can. Everybody is so careful the rest of the time. God forbid, you say something that is not part of the script. It might be the most politically correct of all arenas.”
Opinion on Kimmel’s appearance seemed to split along old and new media lines. Mainstream outlets from Newsday (“a tad obnoxious and overbearing, tossing out cringe-inducing cracks about Joe Theismann and Mormons, among other targets”) and the Orlando Sentinel (“cheap shots were not funny but were cowardly”) took the comic to task. The sports blogsphere seemed unfazed. If anything, Kimmel is guilty of doing what he has always done: cracking jokes and causing trouble.
Speaking of causing trouble, when Terry Bradshaw came out on Kimmel’s couch Friday (that doesn’t sound right, but never mind), he immediately began needling Kimmel about the ban, then presented him with a framed photo of Joe Theismann, inscribed by Theismann with: “Thanks for having my back – love your show.”
This morning, Kimmel made the first stop in his week-long suicide mission of co-hosting “Regis & Kelly” in New York, then flying to Los Angeles the same day to tape his late night show.
I guess that Kimmel is not to everyone’s taste, but I am a huge fan, especially of his monologue and comedy bits.