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On 'Jimmy Kimmel,' the bar is now closed

January 28, 2003|Paul Brownfield | Times Staff Writer

ABC ushered in its new late-night franchise, "Jimmy Kimmel Live," on Sunday night, and already the network is making a tweak: It's evidently doing away with the show's liquor license, after an audience member vomited on her chair, apparently in close proximity to a high-ranking Disney executive.

"They thought it was out of control," Daniel Kellison, the show's executive producer, said Monday of the network's assessment of the atmosphere and decision to eliminate a bar for audience members. "People had bracelets [to get drinks], but they perceived it as chaotic."

An ABC official did not return a call for comment.

Depending on whom you believe, ABC either wants to perpetuate a nightly bacchanal in exchange for ratings or is leery of upsetting affiliates across the country. Kimmel, at least on his first show, seemed eager to suggest that what he was doing was too risque for Disney's ears.

To that end, there were other first show highlights. Kimmel's co-host for the week, rapper Snoop Dogg, flipped off the camera numerous times, in a bit designed to draw attention to the headaches the show will give ABC censors. Actor George Clooney passed around a bottle of vodka.

Somewhere in all of this is a talk show -- the one ABC hopes will give it leverage in late night among coveted 18-to-34-year-old viewers. Preliminary ratings for the debut of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" were not available at midday Monday. With a huge promotional buildup, thanks to the network's Super Bowl Sunday coverage, Kimmel came on the air live, around 9:30 p.m. West Coast time, although he will normally air at midnight, live on the East Coast and on tape here.

Kellison, who declared himself pleased with the loose, live feel of show No. 1, said Tuesday night's show was booked (with the Rock, rapper 50 Cent and Super Bowl sportscaster Al Michaels), but no one was booked yet for Wednesday's show.

When it was suggested that the show is merely being spun as a seat-of-the-pants endeavor, and that things are more planned out than he was letting on, Kellison said: "When we say we don't have any guests, we don't have any guests."

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