Jimmy Kimmel delivered a welcome respite from the nonstop network shilling, show promos and ratings spin during this year’s TV upfronts.
In keeping with tradition, the ABC late-night host took the stage at the Lincoln Center in New York on Tuesday afternoon to skewer his network. He spared no one during the 15-minute set, taking jabs at all the other broadcast nets, Roseanne and Shonda Rhimes’ departure for Netflix.
He kicked off the set on a more serious note, however, addressing the reason he was absent during the 2017 presentation. “On behalf of my family, I want to thank you for the outpouring of support and well-wishes for my son,” he said, noting that his son Billy, who had heart surgery during last year’s upfronts is now a year old. The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host then quipped, “You’ll be happy to know he’s doing much, much better than network television.”
Below, The Hollywood Reporter has compiled Kimmel’s best lines.
1. This year’s upfront is going to be a little different because this is our first ABC-Freeform presentation. I’ve been a big Freeform fan since, uh… 20 minutes ago when I learned what it was.
2. We have a new slogan this year at ABC: Forward Together. Hillary Clinton had a yard sale and she let us have that for almost nothing.
3. Somehow we have more people watching this upfront right now than most of our 10 o’clock shows.
4. I’m proud to say that unlike last year, we’re not in last place. I’m proud to say that honor belongs to Fox — I mean, New Fox. Now with jazz pods. What a week it’s been for you guys. NBC gave you jazz hands, Fox gave you jazz pods. Jazz pods sounds like something you’d use to wash leotards. But the reason Fox is calling them jazz pods is that they wanted to find a way [to offer] shorter commercial breaks and appropriate black culture at the same time.
5. Fox needs help. They canceled Lucifer and The Exorcist. They can’t even make a deal with the devil.
6. As you know, Disney, our company, is in the midst of negotiations to buy Fox. It seemed to be a done deal but then last week, Comcast did, like, the surprise ex-boyfriend who shows up on The Bachelorette right before she’s about to get engaged. Comcast shows up and weasels their way into our business. We got peacock-blocked is what happened. So now, it looks like there could be an epic bidding war. But mark my words, if there is a war, Bob Iger will prevail. He can just charge it to his Black Panther card.
7. How this will work if the sale goes through, nobody seems to know. All we know for sure is someone is buying Fox, the Murdochs are getting richer and everyone is redoing their kitchens with a motherfucking pasta faucet.
8. We have a lot riding on this merger. We can’t lose Fox and Shonda Rhimes in one year. As you know, Shonda has decided to part ways with ABC. She’s moving on and it’s a shame. Shonda is an amazing talent and person who changed the face of this network. Now that she’s leaving for Netflix, I can honestly say on behalf of everyone here at ABC who have worked with her for so long, we hope she rots in hell.
9. No, we’re very sad to see Shonda leave, but as the saying goes: When one door closes… you’re fucked.
10. So we’re saying goodbye to Shondaland and we’re going head-first into Roseanne-istan with no exit plan. Our bigly-ist hit of the year is Roseanne. Roseanne is the No. 1 show as you’ve heard repeatedly in total viewers and the demo. So everyone who says Hollywood is out of new ideas, we’re not; it’s just that one of our new ideas was to Google, “What were our old ideas?”
11. No one at ABC expected Roseanne to be a big hit. Although, to be honest, we don’t expect any of our shows to be hits. But Roseanne‘s success proves that the older and crazier you are, the more today’s audience likes you. And that’s why we’re so proud to announce our new series, “Gary Busey Proves 9/11 Never Happened.”
12. Our new strategy is resurrecting old crap, and with that said I have three words for you: “Who’s the Boss?” I mean, literally — who the hell is running this network?
13. We’re not the only ones doing our greatest hits. Will & Grace; Fuller House; Murphy Brown is back at CBS. That’s right, CBS knows what millennials want and they’ll be damned if they give it to them. Maybe I shouldn’t say this but I have to admit, I’m kind of excited about Murphy Brown. I think it’s refreshing, really, to see anything brown on CBS.
14. NBC privately has been talking about rebooting The Cosby Show. But for obvious reason, they’re not going to call it that. They’re calling it “The Bad Doctor.”
15. We’re also recycling shows that other networks throw away. Fox is reviving canceled ABC shows; ABC and NBC are reviving canceled Fox shows. This is what’s known in the industry as a failure orgy. You cancel a show and it doesn’t even mean anything anymore.
16. Sometimes we have high hopes for a show and they don’t pan out. For instance, America will not see a fourth season of Quantico, in the same way they also didn’t see the second and third seasons of Quantico.
17. We canceled Deception, a show about a magician who used magic tricks to help police solve crimes, which is a shame because it was such a good idea.
18. We even canceled Marvel’s Inhumans. ABC did something remarkable with that. Somehow we managed to have the only unsuccessful project with “Marvel” in the title — ever. It had never been done before.
19. But look, this year is going to be different. This year is going to be so great.… That was a joke.
20. We’ve got three new comedies and five new dramas. And I should warn you, some of the comedies aren’t that funny. But some of the dramas are hilarious.
21. We also have a new reality dating show called The Proposal. The idea of this show is contestants compete to marry someone they haven’t met. It’s like The Bachelor without The Bachelor. I haven’t seen this yet but it sounds to me like this isn’t a dating show so much as it’s a thinly veiled sex-trafficking operation. The Proposal is actually very similar to these upfronts because you guys are opening your hearts, or wallets, to a slate of shows you know literally nothing about. Will they be good? Will they be terrible? You really won’t find out until you’re already fucked.
22. Nathan Fillion is back with a new cop show called The Rookie, which is great news if you were worried your Aunt Joanne wouldn’t be horny enough this fall.
23. We’re also picking up a show called Whiskey Cavalier. It took a while but we finally came up with a title that’s worse than Cougar Town. Whiskey Cavalier is described as a high-octane hourlong action dramedy that follows the adventures of tough but tender FBI super-agent Will Chase, whose code name is “Whiskey Cavalier.” Should we cancel it now or should we wait until you leave the room?
24. NBC is touting an all-Chicago Wednesday — Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago PD — all in one Chicago night. Hey NBC, I have an idea for a show. It’s called Chica-go to another fucking city already. You ever heard of Denver? They have a fire department, too.
25. NBC also says they’re cutting back on commercials. Their plan is to add 10 percent fewer ads on primetime. They need that extra time so Law & Order: SVU can have one more cab driver per episode who says, “The victim was a nice lady.”
26. Fox is cutting their commercial time, too. I mean, Netflix cut their commercial time down to none and they’re doing great, I guess. But everybody goes crazy binging all these programs. I’ll tell you something — maybe I’m old-fashioned but I don’t like watching a show straight through with no commercials. I need a break every nine minutes so I can breathe and learn about Chobani yogurt.
27. More people are streaming content than ever before. According to a new report from Nielsen, adults aged 25 to 54 watch two hours and 28 minutes of streaming content per day. What they don’t mention is that at least an hour of that is porn.
28. Young people are abandoning traditional television in droves. They’re not just cutting the cord, they’re eating the placenta. We are definitely not down with OTT. We need to bring these millennials back to television. Millennials, by the way, are the people responsible for the smell of strawberry vape smoke in every Uber. Those are the people we need back.
29. Millennials have no idea how good they have it with all these choices. We didn’t have choices. Remember when we didn’t give a shit what was on TV? Frasier again? Fine. What am I going to do, read?
30. But what they didn’t have back then was the ability to target specific types of viewers. Now, more than ever, we have so many ways to reach your customers. You’re going to hear a lot about “blockchain” this week. And here’s what’s important about it: Nobody has any idea what it is. You don’t know, we definitely don’t know — but what we do know is that we’re going to charge you up the ass for it.
31. Our technology gets more advanced every year. We are on the verge of having data that is so specific, you will be able to blackmail viewers into using your products. Imagine how many cases of Budweiser your customer will buy to stop you from revealing that they actually watch Man With a Plan.
32. If anyone in this room has used the words “retargeting,” “grand purpose” or “vertical anything” today, please raise your hand, stand up and walk out into traffic.
33. We promise you this: At ABC, our programmatic ad-tech attribution models are retargeting SSP using AI and omnichannel blockchain algorithms to offer hyperlocal content amplification with an optimized CTR and ROI that will make you S-H-I-T your P-A-N-T-S.
34. I don’t know what I just said but it seems to have resonated. Let’s be honest, this is all nonsense. Our ratings are going down and our price is going up. Too bad, eat it. We’re four years from having our brains digitally infused to our Instagram accounts, OK?
35. So here’s what I think we should do. Just let these stupid shows wash over us, clap politely and then let’s just get blackout drunk together. Our president is a lunatic and we’re all going to die. And if we keep this up, with these buzzwords, you know what it’s going to say on our headstones? It’s not going to say “RIP” anymore, it’s going to say “KPI.” You want that? I know I don’t. Let’s not do this again next year.