Jimmy Kimmel claims he was ready to hang up his spurs as ABC’s late-night talk show host earlier this year — but the WGA writers strike changed his perspective.
Kimmel made the revelation on the first episode of Spotify’s “Strike Force Five” podcast, which went live Wednesday (Aug. 30) featuring a roundtable Zoom discussion among Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and John Oliver.
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“I was very intent on retiring right around the time where the strike started,” Kimmel said on the premiere episode. “And now, I realize, Oh yeah, it’s kind of nice to work.”
Meyers chimed in with, “Kimmel, c’mon, you are the Tom Brady of late night… you have feigned retirement.” But Kimmel insisted that he was serious about retiring: “I was serious, I was very, very serious.” Kimmel also said he usually takes the summer off — but in past years, he’s gotten paid.
That said, ABC announced a three-year renewal of Kimmel’s deal in September 2022, which would have made any near-term decision by Kimmel to retire a more complicated effort.
During the WGA strike, Colbert said, people who have spotted him out in public have asked him if he’s “enjoying the vacation”: “I usually say, ‘This is like a vacation in the same way a colonoscopy is like a nap.'”
The unusual alliance brings together the five late-night hosts, who normally compete for ratings and awards recognition, as a way to pay it forward to their respective teams — who have been left without work because of the WGA strike, now in its 121st day. Proceeds from “Strike Force Five” will go to the out-of-work staffers on each of their shows (“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Late Night With Seth Meyers” and “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”).
In a post on X (aka Twitter), Kimmel said the group will produce “Strike Force Five” episodes “for the remainder of the strike.” In any event, it’s set to run at least 12 episodes, per Spotify.
On the podcast, anytime someone says the name of the podcast a thunderclap sound effect gets played.
The last time there was a writers strike — in 2007-08 — “there wasn’t a lot of communication between the late-night hosts, and as a result there was a lot of nonsense that went on,” Kimmel said on the episode. “So Stephen [Colbert] suggested we get together and we talk through our issues and whatever we’re dealing with.”
Other tidbits from the premiere episode: Kimmel said Ben Affleck and Matt Damon had reached out with an offer to each pay one week of his staff’s salaries during the strike (which Kimmel turned down: “I felt that that was not their responsibility”); Colbert said his mother once dated Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, while Fallon said his mother spent one week as a prospective nun at a convent; Kimmel took Fallon on a fishing trip earlier this summer (“I do fish, and I’ve never been invited,” Colbert complained); and Colbert said one of his favorite all-time guests was Robert De Niro, who is famously non-talkative: “We just sat there in silence for a minute… and the audience loved it.”
You can listen to “Strike Force Five” on Spotify (at this link) and all other major podcast platforms (although Oliver, in the show’s teaser trailer, exhorted listeners to tune in on “Spotify, you fucks!”).
After the WGA strike commenced in May, the five hosts began meeting on Zoom videoconferences to discuss the impact of the work stoppage — and they subsequently agreed to turn the comedic conclave into a podcast.
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