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July 16, 2008

Jimmy Kimmel grills McPherson on Leno plans

TCA -- ABC opened their executive session with having Jimmy Kimmel, disguised as "Tom Weinerman from the Sarasota Star-Herald Tribune," asking the first question of Steve McPherson.

"There are rumors that ABC is actively courting Jay Leno for 11:30, is there any truth to those rumors?" Kimmel asked, to critic laughter. "If you were even to talk to Jay Leno, wouldn't that be like contract tampering? Wouldn't that be illegal? Couldn't you go to jail for that? ... Would Ted Koppel get fired or how would that work? If you do replace Jimmy Kimmel are you afraid he'd do something crazy to you, or your car?"

The stunt was a clever way to take some air out the late-night issue, and also telegraphs an underlying message about Kimmel. For all his jokes about being worried and threatened by the possibility of ABC hiring Leno, his ongoing public play-along with the network on the subject suggests that he's not. Whatever closed-door discussions have occurred on the subject, McPherson and Kimmel seemed to have reached an understanding that both men are, at least for the time being, comfortable with ... or Kimmel simply recognizes that showing he's a good sport is essential, regardless of his next move.

Later, McPherson put another lure into the media stream to help snag the "Tonight Show" host, all the while continuing to promote Kimmel.

"I can't believe they're going to let this guy go at the top of his game," McPherson says of NBC. "If it happens we'll look at it at the time and Jimmy will be involved in those conversations. [Kimmel's] show has exploded this year."

Also, from THR.com:

-- McPherson plays nice, says he's rooting for competitors this fall.

-- ABC announces fall premiere dates.


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