The chances that 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' would still be on the air 20 years later, on January 26, 2003, were astronomically low.
According to Variety, a US-based mediahouse, the network hadn't aired a traditional late-night talk show since 1991's 'Into the Night With Rick Dees' (hosted, coincidentally, by another Los Angeles radio veteran), and the previous occupant, 'Politically Incorrect,' had been canceled due to declining ratings -- and controversy over 9/11-related comments host Bill Maher had made.
Among those hosts -- Leno, Letterman, O'Brien, and Kilborn -- Kimmel is the only one left standing in late night, and he has more than earned his keep over the years, becoming the genre's longest-tenured host. Over the course of two decades, the 'Kimmel' team has produced more than 3,500 monologues, 10,000 stars, and five presidents.
According to Variety, on the occasion, a primetime 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' anniversary special will relive some of the show's history by reuniting the original guests from the very first night, including George Clooney, Snoop Dogg, and Coldplay. The inaugural 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' aired live (as it did for the next few years) on a Sunday night after ABC's broadcast of Super Bowl.
Recently, Variety caught up with Jimmy Kimmel and asked his thoughts on how he felt about his show completing 20 years. Kimmel told Variety, "I'm feeling as everybody might imagine, it feels like it went by in the blink of an eye, and it also feels like it's been going on since the Middle Ages. But it definitely gives me a sense of accomplishment. And I think all of us that feeling that way. Especially when you go back and watch some of the old shows and you're like, "Wow, this is very unprofessional!" Those nights where we thought that was a pretty good show, we were extremely wrong!"
Variety also asked the host about his experience on the first night and he said, "I was totally unprepared for the show itself. I had almost no jokes written. I had a terrible cough and was very sick that night. I couldn't stop coughing moments before the show started. And the stage manager didn't want to give me USD 2 to buy some cough drops at the little souvenir shop next door. Luckily, a woman who was doing my hair gave me gave me USD 2, I ran in grabbed the roll of cough drops. I chomped all of them on my way into the studio and was able to keep it together without coughing for the monologue. But I remember while I was doing the show still being so mad at the stage manager."