After weeks of hoopla, ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" made a rare road trip, leaving the comfort of its Hollywood Boulevard studio to tape a week's worth of shows in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Billed as a homecoming for its host, the stunt offered a promotional bonanza for the late-night franchise. The first night alone, Oct. 29, counted Chris Rock and Alicia Keys among the guests.
Then the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy began coming ashore, cutting off large portions of New York City, canceling that night's show and sending everyone who works on it scrambling.
Could this have been God's way of reminding Kimmel that Las Vegas is his real hometown, where he should have brought the show in the first place?
"Vegas is my real hometown," Kimmel insists, but "I was born in Brooklyn.
"I don't think that particular storm had anything to do with me," he adds, laughing at the suggestion. "But I would love to do the show for a week from Vegas. ... It just, for one reason or another, has never come to be. But I've asked about a hundred times. It will happen eventually."
Maybe he'll have the clout to make that happen now that the show is moving up 25 minutes to go head-to-head with his nemesis, Jay Leno, and his boyhood hero, David Letterman. (Tuesday marks "Jimmy Kimmel Live's" first outing at 11:35 p.m. on KTNV-TV, Channel 13. "Nightline" will follow at 12:35 a.m.)
Kimmel, 45, may have entered this world in Brooklyn, but he was formed here, having moved to the valley when he was 9.
Calling during a break from inspecting the construction of the show's new set, he describes himself as "a kid who grew up in Las Vegas and wasn't a particularly great student, wasn't particularly popular, wasn't really particularly anything."
Kimmel graduated from Clark High School, earned his first radio job at KUNV-FM (91.5) and still has family here, including frequent "Jimmy Kimmel Live" contributor Concetta "Aunt Chippy" Potenza.
Las Vegas also was where he began idolizing Letterman, down to Kimmel's "Late Night with David Letterman" jacket, his "Late Night" birthday cake and his "L8 Nite" license plate. But despite his obsession, he never saw himself following in Letterman's footsteps.
"This really wasn't my childhood dream. People seem to think that, but it really wasn't," he clarifies. "I loved watching David Letterman, but I never imagined myself doing that. I wanted to be an artist. ... If there was anything I was known for in school, it was for drawing and cracking jokes in class."
The KUNV gig was the first of many in a radio career that took him to Seattle; Tampa, Fla.; Palm Springs, Calif.; Tucson, Ariz.; and, eventually, Los Angeles, where he broke into TV in 1997 as the co-host of Comedy Central's "Win Ben Stein's Money." Along with Adam Carolla and Daniel Kellison, he created two other series for the cable channel: "Crank Yankers" and "The Man Show."
Among its signature guy-centric bits, the latter featured buxom women bouncing on trampolines and was the source of some residual anger in the media when "Jimmy Kimmel Live" launched Jan. 26, 2003.
"There are always people that are not going to like what you do, I mean, no matter what you do," he reasons. "But when you do something aggressive like 'The Man Show,' they're going to be very vocal about it."
Early "Jimmy Kimmel Live" episodes had a loose, freewheeling vibe, thanks partly to elements that no longer exist. The open bar for audience members, for example, didn't last a week.
"No one ever threw up on an executive," Kimmel says. "That's become lore, it's not the truth. A girl did throw up in the audience on our first night." She just didn't do it on an executive.
And, thanks to a barrage of cursing from actor Thomas Jane, "Jimmy Kimmel Live" hasn't aired live since the show's second season.
Does its host ever wish the show could have retained its original format?
"No. It was a nightmare. It was a mess. And anyone who romanticizes those shows should just go back and look at the tapes of them," he says, laughing. "They were not good ."
So, no nostalgia? No reminiscing about the early days?
"There were no days I miss less than the first two years of this show in my life," he admits. "I was hoping the show would be canceled. The pressure was intense. ... 'Oh my God, we have a show to do at 9 o'clock and it's 5 and we have no guests. Someone call Adam Carolla.' That was how it went for me. It was constant terror and fear."
Before long, though, the show found its footing, and Kimmel was ziplining across Hollywood Boulevard with Tom Cruise, "feuding" with Matt Damon and leading a star-studded ode to his fondness for (expletive)ing Ben Affleck.
He's slowly climbed the hosting ladder, too, having presided over the ESPY Awards, multiple versions of the American Music Awards and, in 2012, both the Emmys and the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
Now, after a decade without any direct competition - first at 12:05 a.m., then at midnight, he's gone up against parts of Leno's, Letterman's, Jimmy Fallon's and Craig Ferguson's shows - he's approaching the biggest rung yet, just in time for his 10th anniversary.
Kimmel, though, swears he never longed for an earlier time slot.
"It didn't really bug me at all. It honestly didn't. Because I always knew that, when that day came, we would be forced to perform well (in the ratings). And I knew we could stay on at midnight indefinitely. So it's a little bit of a risk. I decided to wait it out until I was asked."
Not that he's not looking forward to the challenge. Especially considering that his bringing younger viewers to a three-way battle at 11:35 could finally force Leno, whom Kimmel famously destroyed during an appearance on the ill-fated "The Jay Leno Show," out of late-night TV for good.
"Well, I think he's gonna go when they make him go," Kimmel says of his rival. "I don't think I'll have much of anything to do with it. I'd love to be competitive with him. None of us are silly enough to think we're gonna beat 'The Tonight Show' right off the bat. But it is something that I would take great pleasure in."
Already there are rumors that, to counter Kimmel's younger demographic, NBC is considering moving Fallon into "The Tonight Show" when Leno's contract expires in 2014.
"You never know," Kimmel cautions. "This is a very tricky business, and strange things happen. ... (Leno) seems to be involved in every one of those strange scenarios."
The downside, though, is that Kimmel probably will end up inflicting ratings damage on Letterman as well.
"I think people make more of that than I do," he says. "We've been going against Dave for 35 minutes of our show every night for the last 10 years, so I'm kind of over that part of it. Where you think about that, and you're, like, 'Oh my God, am I hurting Dave?' and that stuff. You're in the big leagues, you have to play ball."
He may not have imagined hosting a talk show back in the day, but when he was handed the keys to "Jimmy Kimmel Live" a decade ago - before the accolades, before the viral videos, before that girl vomited in his studio - did he ever see the show being where it is today?
"I wasn't pessimistic. I was always optimistic," Kimmel offers. "But I was also realistic, in that you never know how these things are gonna go.
"Most people fail at this."
Contact Christopher Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4567.