A note to Seth Meyers: Jimmy Kimmel owes you a beer or two.
The late-night host, who will reprise his role as emcee of this year’s Oscars telecast amid an industry-wide reckoning over sexual abuse, tipped his hat to Meyers, who had the tricky task of hosting the first post-Weinstein awards show with Sunday’s Golden Globes — a feat he likened to being the first dog shot into space.
“I felt like Seth made a joke that was made specifically for me,” he told reporters Monday at the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour in Pasadena. “I did feel that way: ‘I have to see what Seth says and how it is received.’ I do thank him for being that litmus test.”
As for his own plans to address Hollywood’s #MeToo moment and the Time’s Up movement at the 90th Academy Awards in March, Kimmel is taking a wait-and-see approach. “The problem is it’s two months from now. It’s almost like getting into a hot tub or something. You can’t really know what the temperature is until you get there,” he said.
Kimmel, who has four women and seven men on his Oscars writing staff this year, acknowledged he’s fallen short of gender parity, “but because I am inclusive, there are going to be some surgeries.”
Asked about Sunday’s standout moment, Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech — which has spurred talk in some quarters of a presidential run in 2020 — the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” host offered a qualified endorsement.
“Given the choice between Oprah and our current president, I’m on the bus with Oprah traveling the country, encouraging people to sign up to vote,” he said, noting at least one significant downside to #Oprah2020. “We would have to call her ‘President Winfrey,’ also, you realize that? I don’t know if we’re prepared for that as a country.”
Though he’s been credited by some with derailing Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare by speaking openly about the health struggles of his infant son, Kimmel said he has no “plans to run for anything, anytime ever.”
He also vowed that he “doesn’t intend to use the Oscars as platform for healthcare,” and attempted to downplay his role in shaping the national debate through widely circulated, tearful monologues on his ABC talk show.
“I happened into a situation at a very specific time in American history at which I was able to say something that hopefully made people pay attention, if nothing else,” said the host. “It hopefully got people to pick up their telephones and tell their leaders what they expect and want. … I don’t think it’s particularly remarkable that Americans reacted that way. I think, ultimately, that whatever side we’re on, we agree that we have to take care of children.”
Kimmel also objected to the popular consensus that he’d undergone a dramatic personal evolution since his days as host of the loutish “Man Show.”
“That was always me,” he says of his newfound reputation as “America’s conscience” and a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. “I think anybody knows that was always me. I am very hesitant to admit this, and people have forgotten it, but I cried on the last episode of ‘The Man Show.’”