Jimmy Kimmel's Designs On Nightline

ABC might move Jimmy Kimmel Live to compete with Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show, the New York Times is reporting. ABC is pissed about the story. But it gives Kimmel reason to smile.

The idea that ABC would elbow aside its vaunted Nightline franchise for the late-night host is certainly flattering to him; that Jay Leno and David Letterman are believed to have received the same offer in past years only makes it more impressive. Such a move would signal not only Kimmel's high relative worth within ABC, but confidence that he could beat NBC's O'Brien.

But you won't find any ABC executives so much as acknowledging the talks in Bill Carter's story:

ABC executives, including members of the news division, disavowed knowledge of any plan to make a late-night change, saying that no such action was being pursued. Anne Sweeney, the president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, said that any such conversations were speculative and strongly denied that moving Mr. Kimmel was in anyone's plans at the network. Mr. Kimmel and his agent declined to comment.

The sources on the talks, who told the Times ABC "has held discussions" about moving Kimmel to 11:35 pm, are described not as ABC suits but as "people with knowledge of meetings."

We're not saying we who the Times' sources are, but it's worth noting that both "Mr. Kimmel and his agent declined to comment." Hmmm. Carter sure went to a lot of trouble to secure not just one but two denials from Team Kimmel.

Then again, ABC's Sweeney didn't bother to deny that talks took place, only that they were "speculative." And in an anonymous denial to Reuters, the network only denied that the news and entertainment divisions had discussed the idea over, which Carter did not exactly report; he said only the idea of moving Kimmel had been discussed with the entertainment division, leaving open the question of who was on the other side of those talks.

So, angry as her network may be about Carter's story, it sounds like some sort of power struggle is afoot.