Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Chubby, cheeky comedian Jimmy Kimmel, late of cable TV's raunchy The Man Show, was launched in his own late-night ABC talk-variety series on January 26, 2003. Cashing in on Kimmel's patented profane irreverence, the series -- designed to go head-to-head with NBC's Late Night With Conan O'Brien and CBS' The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborne -- pushed the envelope of propriety and good taste farther than ABC had ever gone before. On the opening episode alone, a woozy George Clooney passed out booze to the studio audience, Snoop Dogg flipped a bird at the camera, and a spectator threw up, a spectacle lovingly described by the host. This prompted ABC to close the "open" bar that was the centerpiece of the first episode, and to tightly monitor all future programs, especially during the impromptu stunts perpetrated by the production crew on innocent bystanders outside the studio. Even without the threat of censorship from its parent network, Jimmy Kimmel Live did not appear to be long for this world, its already meager ratings diminishing with each new episode.