NEW YORK — Let’s be honest here: If it hadn’t been for Hurricane Sandy drawing the lion’s share of everyone’s attention this week, Jimmy Kimmel’s visit to Brooklyn for a week of shows might have made a much bigger impact.
For example, local media such as the New York newspapers and ABC’s own station, WABC/Ch. 7, would have covered it a lot more, if it had been a normal week for news.
If it had been an ordinary news week, the only story that would have been covered on a daily basis would have been these final days of the presidential campaign, leaving plenty of room for entertainment reporters to chronicle Kimmel’s week of shows from Brooklyn.
As things turned out, though, we noticed no coverage of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Ch. 7, and the newspaper coverage was negligible, if non-existent. The neglect was understandable, of course: The storm was such a huge story that news organizations required that all of their reporting resources, airtime and print space be devoted to Sandy. Allocating resources to a visiting TV show would have come across as frivolous, if not irresponsible to their audiences and readers who needed critical information to help them cope with the storm.
We covered Kimmel’s New York visit, though, because for us, the shows were big news for a couple of reasons, one of which has to do with Jimmy himself. He’s kind of TV’s man of the moment right now, as he prepares to meet CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” and NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” head-on in January when “Jimmy Kimmel Live” moves to 11:35 p.m. weeknights (eastern time), from midnight.
Thus, we were very interested in hearing what David Letterman, Kimmel’s guest on Wednesday, had to say about that (if anything). And we were just as interested in Howard Stern’s commentary on the subject (Stern was on “Kimmel” on Tuesday). And we were curious to see if Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart would get into that subject with Jimmy when they appeared on “JKL” Thursday night in Brooklyn.
Except for Stern — who’s always outspoken about the late-night wars — these other personalities, who compete with Kimmel for late-night viewers, largely avoided the subject, except to offer Kimmel some good wishes that came across as after-thoughts.
And certainly, we were keenly interested in what kind of a show Jimmy would produce from a setting outside of his Hollywood Boulevard comfort zone. But here again, the hurricane interfered — beginning with forcing the cancellation of Kimmel’s Monday show.
The storm also rendered parts of Kimmel’s subsequent shows obsolete. Kimmel and his team came fully prepared for their week of Brooklyn shows, with a supply of comedy bits Kimmel pre-taped during a visit to New York in late August. And while these bits — such as the one in which he visited his boyhood home — were very well-produced, they came across as out of sync because they were made in the bright sunshine of late summer, but they wound up airing while New York was in the throes of post-hurricane gloom. Maybe Kimmel and his producers should have scrambled to produce more hurricane-related material, but that may have been logistically impossible for a variety of reasons.
Our final analysis: While it’s a little difficult to ascertain what our reaction to Kimmel’s Brooklyn shows may have been if we had not been otherwise distracted by a hurricane, we’re convinced that “Jimmy Kimmel Live” is better off staying put in its native Hollywood. It’s a territory the show knows well. Storm or no storm, Brooklyn didn’t feel like home for Kimmel, even though he was born there.