Jimmy Kimmel caused the late-night gossip mill to whirl after revealing that he wasn’t sure whether he would continue hosting his nightly talk show after his current contract is up.
Kimmel told Howard Stern last week that he was “vacillating” over the decision.
ABC, however, is keen to keep the comedian in place, particularly as Jimmy Kimmel Live! had one of its best seasons, coming second to CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and beating NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in the 18-49 demo for the first time.
Craig Erwich, President of ABC Entertainment and Hulu Originals, told Deadline: “First of all, we want to stay in business with Jimmy for many, many years to come. He’s the king of late-night, he’s the longest-serving host of any current late-night shows. He had a really great year last year, beating Fallon in adults 18-49 for the first time ever, so as long as Jimmy wants to be on ABC, we’d love to have him.”
It’s understood that Kimmel’s contract is up next summer and if does decide to leave, the network would have to figure out how to replace him. It’s a particularly tough trick given the name of the show doesn’t necessarily allow for a new host in the same way that The Late Show and The Tonight Show do, and ABC doesn’t have anyone who follows Kimmel in the way that Seth Meyers and James Corden do for Fallon and Colbert, respectively.
It’s not the first time that Kimmel has considered retiring from the show. In 2019, he revealed that he had thought about leaving but that ABC bosses had persuaded him to return for another three years, taking the show to 20 seasons.
He told Deadline then: “I was seriously considering — I don’t know if you’d say it was really retiring because I’d always do something. The job was a grind, but I really do like Karey [Burke], Dana [Walden] and Peter [Rice], and they came in with … I felt appreciated, and that is important even if you have a job that people think of as glamorous, you want to feel like the company is behind you and I do and that was a big part of it. Also, a lot of my relatives would be unemployed if I quit the show.”
Kimmel has also been stepping up his production business Kimmelot, a venture with Brent Montgomery’s Wheelhouse, with programs such as ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Comedy Central’s Crank Yankers as well as his latest project, ESPN’s 30 for 30 New York Mets documentary series Once Upon a Time in Queens.