No apologies necessary

In the early days of “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the show got little respect and wasn’t exactly at the top of the list for booking major stars. One night, after a particularly-anemic panel, Kimmel closed the show with an offhand quip: “My apologies to Matt Damon; we ran out of time. We’ll get you on tomorrow night.” The joke, of course, was that they’d have second-rate stars onstage while keeping one of the biggest names in Hollywood cooling his heels in the green room. It was so funny, and so appropriate, that it became Kimmel’s regular nightly signoff.

Damon, to his credit, got the joke. He made a walk-on appearance during a prime-time special once, to complain about having had to wait in the green room for all of this time, demanding to know if he was ever going to be allowed to be on the show. He appeared another time at the very end of the telecast, introduced by Kimmel, who then immediately had to wrap up the show, leading to a torrent of bleeped profanity from the (fake) furious Damon as he stormed off stage.

Later, Damon participated in a music video with Kimmel’s then-girlfriend, comic Sarah Silverman. I won’t repeat the title or chorus of that video on this web site. The premise was that Silverman had left Kimmel for Damon and she and Damon were taunting Kimmel about it. It went viral and was a big step in getting attention for Kimmel’s program.

Well, Kimmel’s show now airs in the same time slot as Leno and Letterman, and in the coveted young male demographic, which is valuable to advertisers and thus an obsession of the television networks, he’s been beating Letterman and nipping at Leno’s heels. Now, he can get A-list guests, and tonight Matt Damon will be appearing as a regular, scheduled guest. Of course, now that Kimmel and Damon have had this fake feud going for so long, the show has been promoting tonight’s appearance as if it were a championship wrestling match or something similar.

It should be funny.