“Isn’t there something to be said for dying with dignity,” the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host added. “Somehow when everyone’s stuck in their houses with nothing to do but watch TV for the past 14 months, and we still managed to lose ratings,” he added in a wide slam of the record-low Oscar viewership and virtually everything else on the Big 4 during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Give us your money, we’re Disney, we’re going to get it one way or the other,” Kimmel declared of the corporate pitch session that is the upfronts. “Give us your money or we’ll kill Baby Yoda.”
The Mandalorian star was far from the only big name to get scorched Tuesday by Kimmel in his annual upfronts roast.
Kardashians matriarch Kris Jenner, bragging rights and Disney executives’ “glossary for bullsh*t” corporate jargon were also targeted. So too was NBC’s insistence that the Tokyo Olympics should go on despite Japan’s rising Covid cases, CBS’ viewership boasts, big-spending Amazon, and uber-producer Dick Wolf. Near the end, the exiting Bob Iger and his CEO successor Bob Chapek also got burned.
“We don’t have Dick,” Kimmel blasted the Chicago everything EP. “One thing we can promise is that this company will always be run by a guy named Bob in an open-collared shirt,” the comedian asserted at another point, shooting up the House of Mouse food chain.
It wasn’t all jokes, however, with the end of an era looming.
“I just want to say, I don’t know if he is ever really leaving, but if he does, and I hope he doesn’t, but if he does, on behalf of all of us at Disney, I want to say thank you to Bob Iger for everything you’ve done for me, for us,” Kimmel said as the executive chairman prepares to leave Disney at the end of the year. “Also, why the f*ck was Mulan 30 dollars?”
A tradition at ABC upfronts for nearly 20 years, 2021 marks the second year in a row that the late-night host has served up his roast remotely for the Disney empire. Kimmel filmed the segment last night, I hear. The takedown of ABC and everyone else comes after Disney brass appeared (slightly glitchy) on screens across America earlier today in a digital press conference pre-empting their own upfront presentation this afternoon.
As always, everybody and their dog took a hit from Kimmel, but none more than ABC itself.
“Things are so desperate, we’ve had to resort to doing the right thing: inclusion,” Kimmel noted. “We want ABC, Disney, FX, Hulu, Freeform, ESPN and Nat Geo to be a safe space where anyone, no matter what their racial or ethnic background, their gender or sexual orientation …we want our platforms to be a place where everyone can bring their stories to die.”
Then Kimmel really brought out the shiv to the delight of the laugh track.
“And what do you do when you want to bring more people of color under the tent?,” the long-running host rhetorically asked. “You sign a long-term deal with the NHL – ‘White People On Ice!’ After 17 years, the NHL is back on ABC and ESPN. At long last, America’s fourth-favorite sport returns to its fifth-favorite network.”
Coming near the tail end of Disney’s two-hour-plus exec- and clip-heavy presentation, the 11-minute roast by Kimmel, who proved the breakout star of this month’s Vax Live event with his Robin costume aside Ben Affleck, followed a stripped down rendition of “What The World Needs Now Is Love” by Cynthia Erivo kicking off the upfront.
After the song by the Aretha star, a Morgan Freeman-narrated montage of Disney’s current greatest hits including Brad Pitt at the 2021 Oscars, Kimmel at the 2020 Emmys, the Handmaid’s Tale and sports, was next. Then came an intro on the “seismic change” of the small screen industry by ad sales boss Rita Ferro from the ABC News set in New York City and the House of Mouse was off to the advertiser races.
“We’re a dying breed,” Kimmel said of network TV and its ad-reliant revenue stream at the end of the whole shindig. “The good news is we’re dying together. In fact, that’s our theme for the next upfront: Dying Together.”