Also Credited As:James Kimmel, James Christian Kimmel
|James Christian Kimmel on November 13, 1967 in Brooklyn, New York, USA|
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James Christian Kimmel, known simply as Jimmy Kimmel, was born on Nov. 13, 1967, in Brooklyn, NY to devoutly Catholic parents who made sure that Kimmel served as an altar boy, a repressive gig that would later inform his raucous comic persona. Despite his New York roots, Kimmel grew up primarily in Las Vegas, NV, chasing his early dream of becoming an artist, with a focus on drawing. As a teen, Kimmel was a huge David Letterman fan - going so far as to having Letterman-themed parties. After learning that Letterman began his broadcasting career in radio before branching out to humorous weatherman, Kimmel decided to pursue comedy, but like his idol, started on radio. Kimmel landed his first on-air job in Phoenix, AZ by writing bits for Mike Elliot and Kent Voss of the Power 92 morning team. Tired of Arizona's omnipresent sun, Kimmel moved to rainy Seattle, WA to work with Kent Voss on a morning show called "The Me and Him Show." Kimmel received some flack for writing a parody song about the owner of the Seattle Mariners, entitled "George Argyros is a Mighty Schmuck." Not long after, Kimmel was fired when the station changed formats.
Fed up with constant precipitation, Kimmel's followed his next radio job to Tampa, FL, working for Kent Voss again. Similarly, Kimmel was fired when the station changed format. The ever moving Kimmel went where the work was - first, to Palm Springs, CA, doing the morning show there (where he convinced a young Carson Daly to drop out of college and become his intern), before taking a more lucrative job in Tucson, AZ with his old acquaintance Mike Elliot on the KRQ morning show. The two were brought in to raise the station's slumping ratings, and while they did climb, it was not fast enough for management's taste. They were fired along with producer Chris Patyk - a move which helped plunge KRQ's ratings even faster. Getting tired of hop-scotching around the country with little to no job security, Kimmel turned an eye to his long-held goal of working in television. Ironically, it was his final radio gig on the Los Angeles-based station KROQ where Kimmel's television dream would take root. As "Jimmy the Sports Guy," Kimmel was an integral part of the popular Kevin & Bean morning show for five years. A KROQ boxing stunt called "The Bleeda in Reseda," where Kimmel boxed "Michael the Maintenance Man" (another KROQ personality), teamed Kimmel up with his new trainer, Adam Carolla, co-host of the station's popular "Loveline" sex advice program. The two like-minded comics became fast friends.
While still appearing on KROQ, Kimmel began co-hosting Comedy Central's "Win Ben Stein's Money," (1997-2002), which became his first television success. Centered around the brainy titular actor and former speechwriter, Ben Stein, the show was an unusual one, pitting Stein against successful contestants in the final rounds of competition. In the midst of this veritable brain trust, Kimmel served as the audience's link, quick with a quip, but relatable, with seemingly normal intelligence and unimposing TV looks. This "average Joe" image and fast-on-his-feet comic prowess helped make the show a success and won Kimmel a surprising Daytime Emmy as Best Game Show Host in 1999. A certifiable Comedy Central draw, Kimmel was recruited to host other programming on the network, including the movie specials "Canned Ham: Deconstructing Harry" (1997) and "Canned Ham: Senseless" (1998).
With a successful burgeoning television career, Kimmel left KROQ to work with new comedy partner Adam Carolla on Comedy Central's new unapologetic variety show offering, "The Man Show." The unabashedly hedonistic and inane program featured beer-swilling hosts and audience members, buxom house dancers on trampolines, and segments almost "Our Gang"-esque in their loutish anti-female scope. Characterized by its "all-in-good-fun" approach to bad taste, many laughed along with it and although some were appalled, the program captured a loyal audience and won Kimmel a sizeable fan base. Trailing only Comedy Central's "South Park" (1997- ), "The Man Show" made Kimmel and Carolla, at one point, the coolest guys on TV. Riding the goodwill provided by the show, Kimmel began doing segments on the Fox Sports West pregame shows. His game picks made him the No. 1 sports prognosticator on TV, and the audience enjoyed his bits, with a distinct ratings climb whenever Kimmel was on air. However, his constant ridiculing of the hosts put him in hot water with the other sportscasters.
Kimmel leveraged the success of "The Man Show" to land a production deal, producing a variety of new shows for Comedy Central. The most popular teamed Kimmel with his Jackhole Industries production partners Carolla and Daniel Kellison, to launch the animated primetime comedy, "Crank Yankers" (2002 - ). The unique show, which featured comedians making prank calls to real people, was delivered onscreen though the use of Muppet-like puppets. Kimmel served as executive producer and lent his voice to several of the "Crank Yankers" characters. One of the most popular comics to lend their voice was future Kimmel girlfriend, bawdy comedienne, Sarah Silverman, a woman who could hold her own with all the boys.
After ABC failed to woo David Letterman away from CBS to create its own late night franchise, the network ironically chose to tap his biggest fan to helm their latest midnight entry. So, after aptly following a Superbowl broadcast in January, 2003, Kimmel's long-held dream was realized with the premiere of "Jimmy Kimmel Live." With a studio set at Hollywood Boulevard's famed Pantages Theater, Kimmel's show capitalized on its L.A. locale, built on the host's predilection for pranks and reveled in such off-beat bits as the loveably clueless red carpet coverage provided by Kimmel's uncle Frank Potenza, a retired NYPD cop now employed by the talkfest as a security guard. Neither as razor-sharp snarky as Letterman, as slickly showbiz vanilla as Jay Leno nor as nerdily loopy as Conan O'Brien, Kimmel managed to find his own footing quickly as an Everyman with a devilish bent for trickery and practical jokes. "Jimmy Kimmel Live" became the cool alternative for viewers as anxious to see their boy interview Maxim cover girls as they were to see him ask rappers like Snoop Dog if there really was gin in his juice.
ABC's confidence in Kimmel's appeal to a young, hip audience also landed him successive hosting gigs on the network's American Music Awards in 2003 and 2004. In addition to hosting and writing duties on his own show, the ever-busy Kimmel found time to executive produce shows for his old buddy Carolla "The Adam Carolla Project" (TLC, 2005), as well as "The Andy Milonakis Show" (MTV, 2005-07). On his own program, he began producing recurring theme episodes, such as the "After the Academy Awards" specials, in addition to interviewing each of the celebrity contestants voted off "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ) in a post-show tradition observed since the dance competition's first season. Kimmel briefly served as host for the short-lived game show "Set for Life" (ABC, 2007), on which contestants had a chance to win monthly payments for up to 40 years, depending on their performance in the game. In 2008, Kimmel and his celebrity cohorts sparked the biggest viral phenomenon of the year with the heavily-bleeped music video, "I'm #@%&ing Matt Damon." A humorous by-product of his ongoing farcical feud with the actor, the video was his girlfriend Sarah Silverman's way of breaking the news that she was having an affair. Later that year, Kimmel had his revenge when he fired back with a viral video of his own - the star-studded ditty, "I'm #@%&ing Ben Affleck."
Kimmel and comedienne-actress Silverman - star of "The Sarah Silverman Program." (Comedy Central, 2007-2010) - had by this time been dating for several years and were considered the prom king and queen of the TV comedy circuit. However, as satiric as the Damon/Affleck videos were, they may have also hidden a less humorous truth, as evidenced by the couple's eventual breakup in 2009. In January 2010, Kimmel became the de facto voice of the people in regard to the NBC late night talk show controversy that eventually led to Conan O'Brien being pushed out of his hosting duties on "The Tonight Show," and Jay Leno returning to his seat at the iconic desk. Most in the television audience sided with O'Brien, as did Kimmel, apparently. Two days after mercilessly lampooning Leno - completely in character and costume - for an entire episode of his own show, Kimmel appeared on "The Jay Leno Show" (NBC, 2009-2010) to participate in its recurring "10 at 10" segment. Throughout the Q&A session with Leno, Kimmel repeatedly mocked the host's role in the scandal in front of the studio audience, much to Leno's obvious discomfort and many a viewer's delight. Having served as a presenter several times in the past, in 2012 it was announced that Kimmel would be tackling hosting duties for the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which would be televised that fall.