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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

Jimmy Kimmel (right) takes his late night talk show a half-hour earlier this week.

Late night talk show competition now a three-way race


When Jimmy Kimmel set out with his own late night show on ABC, he was placed in a time slot a little later than his counterparts Jay Leno and David Letterman on NBC and CBS, respectively.

His "Jimmy Kimmel Live," which hasn't been actually live for years, had its airing after "Nightline" where attempts were made to have this national news show work as a lead-in to flow an audience over. Now, his program flips positions with "Nightline," and in our market that means a start time of 11 p.m., after the hour-long 10 p.m. news on WISN-TV Ch. 12.

In other markets, Kimmel will air at 10:35 p.m., immediately after the traditional half-hour 10 p.m. newscasts in the Central time zone. Of course, the national media thinks that the Eastern time zone is the only one that exists, and we have to constantly subtract the hour for our airings.

"There's mythology and traditions surrounding that 11:35 time slot that started with Johnny Carson and then became a big deal when Leno went up against Letterman," Kimmel said. "And so, people are interested in it from that standpoint, as well."

Kimmel once joked that people seem to go to bed at midnight (meaning 11 p.m. here), and there are far more people watching TV the half-hour earlier. He's right, and the ratings prove it. In a time when ratings and shares are everything in TV, Kimmel and ABC would love to have more viewership in that half hour that "Nightline" used to have.

Let's set the way-back machine to learn about the origin of "Nightline." In a time before cable news outlets, during the Iran hostage situation, "Nightline" was created by ABC to provide a home for more national and international news coverage after the local affiliates finished with its own newscasts and, really, its local broadcasting for the day. The news program continued after the hostages were freed and went on to provide news coverage of a number of events.

Now, the landscape has changed, and network TV doesn't have the tight grasp on national news coverage like it once has had. For "Nightline" to survive, it has evolved into more of a magazine show, covering a number of stories in its half-hour slot. And, as others have convinced us – NBC, CBS – entertainment shows can bring in larger ratings, and advertising revenue.

It will be interesting to see if Kimmel, and his brand of humor will make ground at the new timeslot, and if ABC's late night shift will be worth-while.

OSCARS: On Thursday morning, we will find out the nominees for the films, actors, actresses and directors who are nominated for the biggest awards in Hollywood. In a twist, it will be Emma Stone and Seth MacFarlane who will present the nominees on ABC's "Good Morning America."

The last time the show's host also presented the nominees was when Charlton Heston did it in 1972. MacFarlane will lend his many voices as the host of the main awards show broadcast on Feb. 24.

Talkbacks

TheyThink | Jan. 8, 2013 at 2:35 p.m. (report)

Kimmel is easily the funniest man in late night TV. It's a shame that our local ABC affiliate will continue to force an additional 30 minutes of recycled news down our collective throats before JKL will air.

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