Wearing a baseball cap and claiming to be a reporter for the (non-existent) Sarasota Star-Herald-Tribune (I think he said his name was Tom Weinerman), Kimmel asked McPherson about the rumors that ABC wanted to hire Leno once Leno's contract with NBC expired, and what that might mean for ABC's late-night line-up.
"If that were, God forbid, to happen, would that mean Ted Koppel would get fired, or what?"
He also suggested that ABC talking to Leno now would constitute contract tampering and should maybe land McPherson in jail, asked McPherson how he keeps his hair so nice, and then wondered, "Are you at all afraid that if you replace Jimmy Kimmel he might do something crazy to you or your car?"
"We wanted to have a little fun with it," McPherson said after Kimmel left, and tried to defer all further Leno questions by saying, "I can't believe (NBC would) let this guy go at the top of his game." In the scrum after the session, McPherson acknowledged that he thought Leno and Kimmel could make a very compatible one-two punch if Leno were to come to ABC, and that he would keep Kimmel closely involved in any discussions about bringing Leno over to the network.
In other news from the ABC exec session:
- Asked about the kerfuffle over Katherine Heigl's comments about not wanting to submit herself for an Emmy this year -- and whether it was a contract ploy to get Heigl off the show and into a full-time movie career -- McPherson called the situation "unfortunate," but insisted, "She's absolutely staying with the show. There's an unbelievable storyline for her coming up... Shonda (Rhimes) is really excited about that and is the one who crafted that."
- Speaking of Rhimes, "Private Practice" will be tweaked to focus more on medical drama and less on the doctors hanging around the coffee room swapping neuroses, and Kate Walsh's character will resume doing surgery on a regular basis.
- Katie Holmes' upcoming guest spot on "Eli Stone" -- a reunion between her and "Eli Stone" creator Greg Berlanti, who was a showrunner for a while on "Dawson's Creek" -- will feature Mrs. Tom Cruise singing and dancing, "and it's exquisite."
- McPherson tried to wipe away the Show In Trouble label from "Life on Mars," even though the remake of the BBC time travel/cop drama is being completely rewritten and reshot, and many of the supporting roles are being recast. "It's in great shape," he insisted, and when I asked him in the scrum what separates the massively-overhauling "Mars" from all the other shows in development that ABC won't even consider for a debut sooner than midseason, he said the difference is that they have the BBC show as a template.
- "Dirty Sexy Money" will be retooled to eliminate what McPherson called certain "indie film" elements and become more of a "popcorn guilty pleasure" show.