For the last 14 years, Jimmy Kimmel has spent 70 hours a week toiling away on his ABC late-night talk show. He rewrites his own monologues and extensively researches guests. But when his contract expires in the fall of 2019, Kimmel has thought about retiring from the perch that turned him into a household name.
“I know I will do the show for another three years,” Kimmel said in this week’s Variety cover story, as he gears up to host the Oscars on Sunday. “It’s possible that will be it. My wife’s pregnant. At a certain point, I’d like to have a little more free time. I have very little free time as it is.”
As the executive producer — and “control freak” — of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” Kimmel arrives in his Hollywood studios at 9 a.m., shoots at around 5 p.m., and returns to his computer after dinner. “I think this job is a grind, and best-cast scenario, a marathon,” Kimmel said. “I want to go out on my own terms. If I ever feel like we’re repeating ourselves, I think it’s a good indication that it’s time.”
He added, “I will miss it when I go. Television is changing quickly. I get a lot of offers to do a lot of different things.”
Kimmel, 49, said that when he leaves “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” it won’t be for another late-night vehicle. “If there’s something that excites me creatively, it doesn’t necessarily mean something in show business,” Kimmel said. “I like to draw. I like to make sculptures. I’d like to write a book at some point. Doing the show every day doesn’t leave a lot of time for that.”
The late-night landscape has dramatically changed since Kimmel started, with Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert duking it out in the ratings race. Kimmel will occasionally tune in to the competition. “When I do watch, it’s for pleasure,” he said. “Let’s see what Stephen Colbert is doing; let’s see what Fallon is doing. I’ll do that once every few months — not often.”