Jimmy Kimmel is gearing up to grill Madison Avenue once more.
Since 2002, ABC has trotted its late-night host on to the stage during its annual “upfront” presentation at New York’s Lincoln Center, where he inevitably lets loose with a torrent of stick-it-to-the-man jokes about the relationship between advertisers and TV. ABC, like every other U.S. TV network, holds a presentation in the hopes of luring millions of dollars in ad cash -and Kimmel never seems to care. “Every year we lie to you, and every year you come back for more,” Kimmel told the crowd in 2009. “You don’t need an upfront. You need therapy.”
The routine has become an expected element of ABC’s pitch each year, Now, after skipping the showcase earlier this year to take care of his newborn son, Kimmel tells Variety he expects to return in 2018.
“Yes, I’m planning to,” he said in an interview on Sunday. “I found myself missing being there. I felt a little left out, and it was weird.”
ABC expects to welcome him back. “We always want Jimmy at the upfront,” said Debra O’Connell, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Disney ABC Television Group, on Monday, while waiting for Kimmel’s first show of a week-long stand in Brooklyn to start.
In doing so, ABC ensures a ritual of this mammoth ad-sales process will stay intact. Kimmel’s barbs are scrutinized not only by advertisers, but by rivals. When Kimmel has taken a poke at CBS, none other than Leslie Moonves, chief executive of CBS Corp., responds a day after ABC’s regular Tuesday-afternoon presentation with some comments at a press breakfast CBS holds on Wednesdays.
Some young reporter unaccustomed to the yearly dressing-down will no doubt watch Kimmel’s next performance and run to a keyboard to suggest ABC fire him for his intemperate remarks. It seems to happen almost every year.
But his return means someone will, for at least a few seconds, take some air of what is usually a pretty starchy affair. “Network television is in flux. its been in flux for some time now. You might say we’re completely fluxed,” Kimmel told the ABC upfront audience in 2010. “That said, at ABC we want to give you a good hard fluxing for hours, from every conceivable position. Because that’s what we’re doing, constantly fluxing others. So let’s flux this thing up good this year.” He could probably offer a new version of that sentiment in 2018.