Is Jimmy Kimmel turning out to be the big winner of the Jay/Conan mess? He's not in danger of losing his show (Steve McPherson made it clear a few days ago that ABC's no longer interested in Conan), and he's had the two most biting, memorable bits of comedy so far. You've probably already seen a clip or clips of him doing an entire show in character as Jay. Last night Jay invited Kimmel onto his show for the "10 at 10" segment, perhaps hoping that the invitation and the appearance on Jay's home turf might soften Kimmel's usual tough approach. (If so, he hasn't paid attention to how harshly Kimmel tends to rip ABC during his appearances at the network's upfront every spring.) Kimmel came on, and after a few questions he destroyed Leno. You can see for yourself how brutal it was.
Fienberg and I argued last night about how surprised Jay could have been, given that he knows Jimmy's MO. My feeling is that Jay looked clearly upset by the end of the segment, and he's not a good enough actor to fake that. So either he expected Jimmy to be nice, or he expected Jimmy to get in one or two light zingers, but nothing this extensive and cutting.
There seemed a point a while back - circa the Matt Damon and Ben Affleck videos a couple of years ago - when it seemed like Kimmel was inserting himself into the late night conversation as more than an afterthought. Then NBC announced what we now know to be the idiotic baby-splitting plan of Jay at 10 and Conan at 11:35, and that was all anyone could talk about in late night. But I think after this double-whammy on Jay, Kimmel's going to be impossible to ignore.