Exclusive: Kimmel Gets Pre-Emmy Slot

Jimmy Kimmel's Big Night of Stars to air on ABC prior to awards-show telecast.
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In the latest sign of its commitment to building Jimmy Kimmel into a franchise, ABC will air another primetime special from the late-night host, this time on Emmy Awards night.

The network will air Jimmy Kimmel’s Big Night of Stars Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. on both coasts, leading into the Primetime Emmys.

ABC has aired Kimmel primetime specials around big events ranging from award shows to the National Basketball Association Finals. And on two of those specials, Kimmel’s show received a new level of buzz, thanks to comedic taped pieces that exploded on YouTube and elsewhere on the Internet.

The first of these featured ex-girlfriend Sarah Silverman and Matt Damon in a fictional affair, followed by a Kimmel-Ben Affleck video spoof of a similar nature. (The video is nominated for two Emmys and Silverman’s role for one.)

The pre-Emmy show this year is leaning more heavily on a star-studded lineup, and it will take place mostly out of the studio. The special will be introduced by ABC’s Barbara Walters and feature chats with Ryan Seacrest, Tracy Morgan, Salma Hayek and Olympic golden boy Michael Phelps.

Other appearances are expected to include Regis Philbin, Kelly Ripa, Jon Hamm, Kobe Bryant, William Shatner and Rachael Ray. Kimmel will then be seen again later that night -- he’s an Emmy presenter.

ABC’s continued commitment to Kimmel comes as many industry insiders continue to expect Jay Leno to end up hosting a late-night show on ABC at 11:35 p.m. in 2010, when he is contractually freed from NBC. At that point, Kimmel, who has seen his stock rise significantly in recent years, could end up following Leno at 12:35 a.m. (30 minutes later than he is on in many markets) or potentially jump to another network.

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