‘Kimmel’ Gets Into Monday-Night Fight

Begins airing originals on Mondays; may add primetime special pegged to Lost finale

ABC is switching the production schedule on late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live, which will now produce shows on Mondays. Formerly “dark” on Mondays—meaning reruns would air that night—the show will now make Monday a tape day and instead go dark on Fridays, still sticking to its four nights per week of originals.

The network is also thinking about adding a Kimmel Live primetime special pegged to the upcoming series finale of Lost; Kimmel is a noted fan of the show. Kimmel Live aired a primetime special to complement ABC’s March 7 Academy Awards telecast, and is slated to air a series of specials around the NBA basketball finals.

While the move to original shows on Mondays coincided with Jay Leno’s much-ballyhooed return to late night, in fact it had nothing to do with NBC’s latest late-night shakeup. Rather, network and show insiders say the move was done to capitalize on synergies and promotional opportunities with ABC’s Monday-night lineup, which includes reality hits like Dancing With the Stars, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Castoffs and stars from ABC reality shows are mainstays on Kimmel’s show, so the hope is to add late-night audience through primetime promotion on Mondays.

Prior to Leno’s return being finalized, ABC had decided to air an original Kimmel Live on March 1, in conjunction with the finale of The Bachelor, and again on March 8, a day after ABC’s airing of the Oscars. So, network brass decided it was a good time to make the long-mulled switch permanent.

With stiffer competition now that Leno is back, ABC executives also hope that being new on Mondays will start the week with a little more momentum for the show. Kimmel Live will move its signature “Unnecessary Censorship” bit to Thursdays from Fridays.

And while ABC’s entertainment side has long coveted the 11:35 time slot held by Nightline, insiders say there has been no movement on that front as the ABC News entrant continues to post solid numbers. In fact, like its ABC late-night brethren, Nightline is looking at adding primetime specials as well.