Jimmy Kimmel has been a fierce critic of “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno for several years, but now that Leno appears to be exiting NBC, Kimmel has softened his attacks. In an interview with Broadcasting & Cable over the weekend, Kimmel defended Leno for an area in which many have attacked him.
When asked about reports that NBC chair Bob Greenblatt and Leno had a terse email exchange over jokes in Leno’s monologue at the expense of NBC executives, Kimmel admitted that he felt sympathy for his competitor. “I’m firmly on Jay’s side on that particular subject,” Kimmel said.
He continued, “If that did happen — and I don’t know if it did — it seems like a very silly email to send. Talk shows have been making fun of their network and network executives for about 40 years now. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone.”
Kimmel may identify with Leno in that regard. The ABC host is well-known for attacking his network and its executives at the annual ABC upfront, which he has hosted for several years.
While rumors are swirling about the “Tonight Show” changes, Kimmel admitted that he is not terribly invested in the drama. “I’m very focused on college basketball right now,” he said, while also admitting that has no preference over who hosts “The Tonight Show,” while admitting that he “like[s] Jimmy Fallon a lot both personally and professionally” and would be “very happy for him” were he to take over the show in 2014.
In fact, that’s another area that Kimmel and Leno share common ground. “Extra” recently asked Leno whether Jimmy Fallon will take over “The Tonight Show” from him, to which Leno replied, “I hope so!”