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Jimmy Kimmel: 'Dick Clark was a real character'

June 22, 2012|By Glenn Whipp
  • Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times
Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times (m5vplypd20120621220943/600 )

Jimmy Kimmel has never hosted the Emmys, but he’s pretty sure his upcoming gig will be more enjoyable than the four times he emceed the American Music Awards.

“There, the audience are all just fans who want to see the musical acts,” Kimmel says. “You’re more a nuisance than anything to them.”

But the American Music Awards did provide Kimmel one invaluable opportunity: the chance to work with the late Dick Clark, who created and produced the show. Kimmel says he learned a couple things from the show-biz veteran.

“Dick Clark was a real character,” Kimmel says. “One year, we had a dress rehearsal. It happened to be my birthday. And Dick Clark comes out from backstage with a big cake and candles and, all of a sudden, everyone starts singing ‘Happy Birthday,’ including Dick Clark. I was genuinely touched by the gesture. I didn’t tell anyone it was my birthday. I didn’t think anyone knew.

“So Dick Clark brings me the cake and I said to him, ‘Wow, this is really nice. Thank you for doing this,’” Kimmel continues. “And he just says, ‘Photo op.’ And he looked at the camera and smiles. And the photo op ended and that was that.”

Another year, Kimmel took the time to confirm a story he’d heard about Clark’s legendary thriftiness.

Remembers Kimmel: “Somebody told me that he always buys a coach ticket and then when he gets to the airport, he tells them, ‘Well, of course, I wouldn’t have a coach ticket. I have a first-class ticket. There must have been a mistake.’ And they’d upgrade him to first-class.

“So I ask him if that was true and he said, ‘Yes.’ I loved that. He was clearly unashamed. ‘Yes. That is what I do.’ ”

Might Kimmel one day apply the lessons he learned from the Master?

“I don’t think the ticket thing would work for me,” Kimmel says, laughing. “I have a feeling they’d just send me to the back of the plane.”

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