As he prepares to host the 64th annual Emmy Awards (8 p.m. EDT Sunday, pre-show at 7 p.m.), Jimmy Kimmel can take solace. Odds are good he'll do better than the hosts the last time ABC aired this awards show in 2008. Back then, five reality-show hosts shared Emmy-hosting duties with disastrous results.
"Everyone, especially you guys, seemed to hate how the broadcast came out," Kimmel said during a July press conference at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. "I was able to look good by not doing anything at all. That's my goal in life, by the way."
But Kimmel also has an ace up his sleeve: He actually watches and enjoys television; this is obvious to anyone who sees him on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (12:05 a.m. weeknights until January, when it moves to 11:35 p.m.).
While a love of TV might seem like a given for anyone who works in entertainment, it is not always the case. Many performers are so busy making TV -- 14-hour days are not unheard of on a prime-time drama -- they have no time (or interest) in watching in their limited downtime.
"I did not study in high school or college, and that's why I know so much about television. I watch a lot of shows," Kimmel said. "I guess I shouldn't be, in this room, embarrassed to say it, because we all watch television for a living, and for me, that's something that I can comment on that everyone knows about and it's a big point of reference for all of us."
This year the big contest at the Emmys will be in the drama and miniseries/movie categories. In drama, can AMC's "Breaking Bad," Showtime's "Homeland" or PBS's "Downton Abbey" dethrone reigning champ "Mad Men"? And in the miniseries/movie category, will FX's "American Horror Story," which viewers didn't realize was a recurring miniseries until the end of its first season, win over History's "Hatfields & McCoys," PBS's "Sherlock" or HBO's "Game Change"?
Regardless of how members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences vote, Kimmel said viewers should expect him to have a presence throughout the telecast.
"Sometimes in award shows the host is there in the beginning and then he or she disappears until about 45 minutes later, and it's nice to be able to comment on things as they're happening," he said. "Hopefully I will be able to insert myself in the entirety of the broadcast."
Executive producer Don Mischer said having the host present throughout the broadcast will help move it along.
"Out of the three hours, we have 26 awards to present, which is a lot of awards and more than any other awards show," Mischer said. "When you boil it down, we have about 21 minutes or 22 minutes of time for all the other things. So how we do that and how Jimmy weaves himself in and out of the award presentations or brings people on or makes comments about somebody who just won and walked off, that's what makes these things move and gives it the pizzazz that he's talking about. That's what we're hoping we can get."
And, of course, there will be an "In Memoriam" package, which some viewers like and others take as their cue for a bathroom break.
"The general practice is that about 34 to 36 names are included, and it's really difficult because there are many more people who, in fact, deserve to be in there," Mischer said. "Making those decisions is tough. ... What we really try to do is identify those people who will create some sort of emotional response among the viewers. In all the testing on the Emmys, other than the host, the favorite segment is the In Memoriam section."
Kimmel said he's a fan.
"I love that, even in death, you're subject to a popularity contest," he quipped. "Some people get a big round of applause, some people don't."