By Jay Tilles
Jimmy Kimmel will proudly host this Sunday’s Academy Awards, but it’s not the first time the late night host has attended the festivities. While working as a writer and sports reporter on KROQ’s Kevin & Bean Show in the mid-90s, Kevin and Jimmy hatched the foolproof idea to sneak into the Oscars. They’d had success sneaking into other high-profile events like The Emmy’s and GRAMMYs so the pair figured it was a challenge worth taking on.
With their goal to record interviews via Kevin’s hidden microphone, they had their sites set on breaking into the Governor’s Ball at The Shrine Auditorium, a massive celebrity-filled post-Oscars party taking place just steps away from the awards ceremony.
Jimmy recalled the hilarious 12-hour adventure during a phone call with Kevin & Bean this morning.
“I don’t know where we got tuxedos, but we got them and we decided that we were going to go to the Governor’s Ball and get interviews,” recalls Jimmy with a chuckle. “Nobody’s allowed into the Governor’s Ball to get interviews. It’s the big party after the Oscars. We figured if we went at noon way before anybody got there and just wait until everybody got there we’d just become part of the scenery.” Jimmy assumed with tuxedos they’d simply blend in with the existing wait staff.
“We went right into the kitchen,” Jimmy explained. “And, we kinda said hello to everybody so that we would be seen as workers. We stood in this room for nine hours until 9:00 p.m. when the show was over. And just before people started coming in security came over and asked, ‘Where are your wristbands?'”
After unsuccessfully claiming they were guests of Academy Awards producer Gil Kates, the pair were shuffled out the door after waiting nine long hours.
“We were so mad and so bummed.”
After driving just a few blocks toward home they made a u-turn and decided to try again. This time they’d take a swing at entering through the front door. They’d hoped to blend in with the throngs of other tuxedoed celebs. And much to their amazement, it worked. They found themselves inside the very biggest of Hollywood parties.
It was time to get interviews.
“John Travolta was at the table and Kevin had a microphone up his sleeve and said, ‘Hey we’re from KROQ.’ He thought it was funny and he went and got us a plate of food.” The food was a welcome gift as the pair were far too scared to eat earlier that day.
Two decades later Jimmy Kimmel will find himself on stage hosting the 89th Annual Academy Awards and his entry into the Governors Ball, well, he won’t need to enter through the kitchen, unless he wants to for old-time sake.
Listen to Jimmy’s story below and hear him crack up when he learns that Crocodile Dundee’s Paul Hogan once hosted the Oscars.