Originally created 02/03/03

Last call at Jimmy Kimmel's new ABC talk show



NEW YORK -- It's last call at Jimmy Kimmel's new ABC talk show.

After a boisterous premiere during which actor George Clooney passed around a bottle of vodka and an audience member vomited, the bar that serves drinks to audience members has been shut down.

Kimmel's late-night talk show, to run regularly on weeknights, premiered early Monday two hours after the end of the Super Bowl and was seen by an average of 4.8 million viewers.

Besides Clooney pouring drinks, rapper Snoop Dogg tested censors by several times making an on-camera obscene gesture.

"We were not comfortable with the systems in place for serving wine and beer," ABC spokesman Kevin Brockman said.

Daniel Kellison, the show's executive producer, said, "They just said 'let's chill out on it and take it away for now,' and we said fine. We have bigger fish to fry."

ABC is hoping to build a late-night franchise by replacing "Politically Incorrect" with a new show led by Kimmel, former co-host of "The Man Show" on Comedy Central. ABC had resisted letting the show operate a bar in the first place, but Kellison pointed out drinks are served at the Disney-owned California Angels' games.

Kimmel, speaking earlier this month, said he wanted to make going to the show a more pleasant experience than it normally is for audience members.

"You stand out there for three hours," he said. "They poke you with cattle prods to get in, and then you're forced to laugh and applaud at certain times. I want to make it more of an evening out where people actually enjoy themselves from the beginning of the experience until the end."

Drinks aren't served to audience members at Jay Leno's "Tonight" show and David Letterman's "Late Show." On-air guests at "Tonight" are asked backstage if they want a drink; Letterman's people won't ask, but will get something if it's requested.

Last June, "Tonight" show guest Tom Green got progressively drunk on the air as a gimmick, an experiment thought to quickly spiral out of control.

For a new show seeking attention like Kimmel's, publicity about a raucous opening night and bar shutdown might not necessarily be a bad thing.

"It gives us some stature in terms of people thinking this is a different show and not a conventional talk show," Kellison said. "Honestly, what we want to do is create a place where the young audience and young talent feel like this is a fun place to come."