Jimmy Kimmel has a few surprises planned for Austin.
The ABC late-night host, whose show will originate from the Long Center for the Performing Arts this week, says his crew has been hard at work for months now to make sure viewers are impressed.
Guests will include Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kevin Hart, Matthew McConaughey, Brad Paisley and Tony Romo, among others. Kimmel also promised that bookers for the show were in talks with at least three additional big-name guests who will likely pop up during the broadcasts.
Several musicians are set to sit in with Kimmel’s house band, Cleto and the Cletones, including Gary Clark Jr.
This will be the second year “Jimmy Kimmel Live” has originated from Austin during South by Southwest. The show, which typically is taped in Los Angeles, airs weeknights at 10:35 p.m. on KVUE, Austin’s ABC affiliate.
“We all had an unbelievably great time last year,” Kimmel told me. “The question isn’t, ‘Why are we coming back?’ It’s, ‘Why did we leave in the first place?’ Heading to Austin is a very easy sell.”
The local restaurant scene in particular is a big draw for Kimmel and his team. They’ve already mapped out all the places they’d like to visit — and Kimmel says it’s a long, long list.
“Last year, they had to take my suits out,” he said. “This year, we’re prepared. I’ll start the week with a 32-inch waist and will probably be a 34 or 35 by the end of the week.”
Kimmel and members of his team made several visits to Austin in preparation for this week, pre-taping a number of segments. In addition to showcasing food, look for several landmarks and local businesses to be featured.
As part of a contest, McConaughey and Kimmel will even film a commercial for one lucky Austin business owner.
“I have a genuine enthusiasm for Austin,” Kimmel said. “It’s a city I could easily move to. The people there are friendly in the best way possible.”
That friendliness and energy come through on air, the host said. At the Long Center, an audience of about 800 people will be on hand each night. That’s compared to about 100 people back home in Los Angeles.
Tickets to be in the audience this week already have been distributed.
“It’s incomparable,” he said. “Everyone in Austin is a lot more fired up. I love it.”
‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’
10:35 p.m. weeknights