It used to have a different cohost every week, but that gimmick is gone. It used to air live in the Eastern and Central time zones, but now it's pretaped to guard against dirty words. A year and a half after it premiered, Jimmy Kimmel Live seems to be losing distinctiveness. So why watch?
Well, Kimmel's more likable than Craig Kilborn, and in most markets he's on a half hour earlier.
Both Comedy Central alums gear their programs to a young male constituency, but CBS's Kilborn (Jon Stewart's Daily Show predecessor) can be insufferably smug, while Kimmel (ex-costar of The Man Show) is casual bordering on indifferent. Rather than bother with an opening monologue, the host has been going straight into the little setups and kickers for his nightly collection of clips. Sample: California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger brands his political foes "girly men"; Kimmel calls him a "big dumb foreign guy." Topical but less than trenchant. Nepotism reigns on the Kimmel show. Out-of-the-theater bits often involve the host's cousin Sal, who blew up a fireworks stand to kick off the Fourth of July weekend, or Uncle Frank, a sunny but square 70-year-old who works the red carpet at showbiz events and displays a clueless-ness that has grown less endearing with repetition. At least he's an alternative to The Tonight Show's Ross the intern.
While Kilborn knows jock talk from his ESPN days, don't forget that Kimmel used to make football predictions on FOX. He's so into sports that he actually appeared to enjoy interviewing effusive basketball analyst Dick Vitale. Kimmel seems like a good guy to have a beer with, but he needs to push himself more to stand out from the late-night crowd.