Jimmy Kimmel was ready to say goodbye to late-night television.
The “Jimmy Kimmel Live” host shared in the first episode of Spotify’s “Strike Force Five” that he was “intent on retiring” before the Writers Guild of America strike shut down his show. He also revealed that he declined Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s offer to pay his staff for two weeks.
Kimmel first asked his late-night counterparts — Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver — during the Aug. 30 episode if they were “getting stir-crazy.”
“Are you ready to go back to work?” he asked, before making the revelation. “Because, as you know, I was very intent on retiring right around the time where the strike started.”
“And now, I realize, Oh yeah, it’s kind of nice to work,” Kimmel said, adding, “When you are working, you think about not working.”
Meyers quipped, “Kimmel, c’mon, you are the Tom Brady of late-night… You have feigned retirement… Are we to take you at your word that you were seriously considering this?”
Kimmel was adamant, saying, “I was serious, I was very, very serious.” He explained how he usually gets the summers off but still gets paid. Now, because of the WGA strike, he isn’t getting paid.
It should be noted that in 2022, Kimmel extended his contract for his show to run for at least three more years, per Variety.
The WGA — an alliance of two labor unions representing over 11,000 film, television, news, radio and online writers — has been on strike since May 2. The guild is demanding higher pay and a stable pay structure, as well as fairer deals and contracts and provisions about artificial intelligence, per a list of WGA proposals.
The five late-night talk show hosts announced their limited series podcast on Aug. 29. They also stated that proceeds from “Strike Force Five” will go to out-of-work staff from their respective shows: “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.”
Highlights from the first episode of “Strike Force Five”
Why the late-night hosts teamed up for a podcast
Kimmel shared that the last time there was a writers strike in 2007 to 2008 “there wasn’t a lot of communication” between the late-night talk show hosts.
“So Stephen suggested we get together and we talk through our issues and whatever we’re dealing with,” he added.
Oliver then said, “Would it be fair to say that in 2008 the hosts didn’t get along quite as well as we do? I know it’s an incredibly low bar but that was a sequence of dying marriages that they were engaged in.”
The line-up consisted of Kimmel, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, David Letterman and Craig Ferguson on major networks while Colbert and Jon Stewart were on Comedy Central. They recalled how Letterman and Ferguson were allowed to return early to work due to their production company “and we were all mad,” Kimmel said.
Kimmel talks about the A-listers who get invited to his South Fork Lodge in Idaho
In July, Kristen Bell’s photo from South Forks Lodge went viral because it included a slew of A-list celebrities having dinner together. The pic included Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Jason Bateman, Adam Scott, John Mulaney, Fallon and many others.
When asked about his lodge, Meyers asked to clarify certain “rumors.”
“Is (there) any truth to the rumor that, obviously you have a lot of celebs come out there to go fishing,” Meyers began. “That you have scuba divers under the water, who then hook the fish to the rods of your A-listers so they have fish?”
Laughing, Kimmel said there are “some celebrities, most of them don’t fish.”
“They just kind of hang around, which enrages me. I’ll be honest with you,” he said. “I hate when people come out here and they don’t fish.”
That’s when Colbert said that he does fish and he’s “never been invited.”
Colbert’s shared his favorite all-time guest
Colbert expressed that he loves a guest “who doesn’t really want to be there.”
“I do,” he said, “I like a guest who’s hard. Like, where they go, ‘You’re not going to enjoy this.’ I’m like, ‘I bet I will.’ I really like the challenge.”
He then shared how Robert De Niro is “famously very reticent” and the first time he interviewed him on his show he didn’t ask him a question.
“We just sat there in silence for a minute and it was one of my favorite moments with any guests. The audience loved it,” he recalled. “We just sat there and didn’t talk for a solid minute. Try doing that.”
Kimmel says Ben Affleck and Matt Damon offered to cover his staff’s pay for two weeks
“Ben Affleck and the despicable Matt Damon contacted me and offered to pay our staff for two weeks. A week each, they wanted to pay out of their own pockets,” Kimmel said, before being asked by Colbert, “Our staff or your staff?”
While it was only Kimmel’s staff, Fallon called the two “good people.”
Kimmel, however, shared that he declined their offer. “I did say no, but I felt that was not their responsibility,” he said, with Meyers quipping if the offer was “transferable.”
“Could you say yes and then give your money to us?” Colbert jokingly added.
Ryan Reynolds is supporting their staff
However, Ryan Reynolds, who co-sponsored the podcast episode, is offering all their staff Mint Mobile services for free for a year.
He also recorded a new ad for the podcast in which he jokes that he’s not a “validation-seeking celebrity trying desperately to get into the new hot thing here.”
“We don’t need any of you. We need customers, obviously,” Reynolds said in the pre-recorded ad. “I mean any of you late-night hosts.”
The inspiration behind the podcast name
The podcast name was inspired by their text chain they started “right after the strikes or before,” Colbert said.
Kimmel said they had other names that they were trying to come up with for their Zooms. He teased that they would share the names “for the next show.”
Colbert has code names for each host
Colbert revealed that he has code names for each of them in case he loses his cell phone. Kimmel is Crank Yanker, Fallon is Steve Allen, Meyers is Boom Chicago and John Oliver is Joliver.
“You’d have to be a pretty dumb guy who stole Stephen’s phone to not figure out Joliver,” Meyers said.