Jimmy Kimmel has become one of the faces of late-night TV, if not its biggest star right now. ABC certainly sees it that way and hopes the comedian hangs around for a long, long time.
Rob Mills, the executive vice president of unscripted and alternative entertainment at Walt Disney Television, spoke at the 2024 Realscreen event in New Orleans. Mills referred to Kimmel as one of the faces of Disney and expressed hope that Kimmel would stick around late-night TV for decades to come.
“He’s going to do this as long as he wants to do it but hopefully it’s a little bit longer," Mills said (via Deadline). "Is he halfway through? No I don’t think he’s going to do it for 40 years, but I would love 30.”
Thirty years from now would put Jimmy Kimmel at 86 years old. So while Mills' comments were likely a little tongue-in-cheek, he is hoping for an elderly Kimmel to commit to the late-night TV grind.
For perspective, Johnny Carson left The Tonight Show at age 66. David Letterman called it quits on The Late Show at 68. Kimmel would probably be the first to say 86 is too old for the job, considering his thoughts on other senior citizens applying for jobs with heavy workloads.
Jimmy Kimmel has teased retiring in the past
But does Jimmy Kimmel even want to do half of the 30-year wish coming from ABC? He signed a three-year extension with the network in 2022. Kimmel is one of late-night TV's richest stars, boasting an impressive net worth thanks to his 20-plus years on the air.
However, the comedian has hinted that he doesn't want to do late-night TV forever. Kimmel has been referencing retirement for years, going back as early as his 2019 appearance on Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend.
Then there were whispers that he would walk away prior to signing his new deal with ABC. Kimmel told Howard Stern in 2022 that he felt unsure if ABC wanted him or if the network executives desired a fresh face. Ultimately, Kimmel received the support he wanted and decided the emotional toll of ending the show would be too much.
Finally, Kimmel admitted he contemplated retirement around the time of the 2023 writers' strike. Speaking on his Strike Force Five podcast, Kimmel revealed "I was very intent on retiring right around the time where the strike started, and now I realize like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s kinda nice to work. You know, when you are working, you think about not working.”
So added up, Kimmel's comments don't sound like someone who wants to be delivering a nightly monologue and interviewing celebrities for the next 30 years. He already takes summers off. Plus, his feuds with politicians and celebrities frequently make Kimmel the story. It's not something he always finds amusing as his family becomes a target for backlash.
He has suggested he wouldn't know what to do with himself if he didn't have Jimmy Kimmel Live!. But other late-night TV stars have provided a blueprint.
It was shocking to hear Conan O'Brien retire from late-night TV and end his show on TBS. Yet the late-night legend has found a second act with his successful podcast and a new travel series coming to Max.
Kimmel's idol David Letterman has also kept busy post-Late Show. Letterman's talk show My Next Guest is a hit and Emmy-nominee.
Gone are the days when someone like Jimmy Kimmel needed a television show to have a platform for creativity. Kimmel is just lucky that he has the option of sticking around on TV for the next 30 years. Regardless of what he does, he's earned the right do it on his on terms.