Will Saddam Scud Jimmy Kimmel?

Wednesday, Jan. 8

Of all the profound questions currently circulating about what impact a U.S. invasion of Iraq might have upon this country, one of the most stirring, of course, is: How might an attack on Iraq affect the much-anticipated launch of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live ?

It is uncertain if the Jan. 26 post–Super Bowl launch of Mr. Kimmel’s talk show is among the items the Pentagon and White House are considering as they mull whether or whether not to invade Saddam Hussein’s desert nation, a maneuver many believe will happen within the next several months-and perhaps soon after the U.N.’s Jan. 27 deadline for its inspection report on Iraq’s weapons program.

But it is true that ABC-poised to make, with the midnight show hosted by Mr. Kimmel, its boldest jump into the late-night comedy arena ever-has a prized tradition of exhaustive late-night wartime coverage with its 11:30 p.m. news show, Nightline .

And here’s how Saddam could hit Jimmy: Nightline , which actually began in 1979 as an extension of ABC News’ coverage of the Iran hostage crisis, has been allowed, during national crises, to expand from a half-hour to an hour as anchor Ted Koppel examines breaking news and interviews newsmakers. Should Nightline wish to expand its time slot in the event of a U.S. invasion into Iraq, it would invariably pre-empt or push back Jimmy Kimmel Live .

Such a choice of hard news over comedy seems like a logical one, given the seriousness of any U.S. war and Nightline ‘s credentials as a news program. ABC and its affiliate stations have shown little hesitancy about allowing Nightline to run longer in the past. ABC has also already received a significant amount of bad press for its perceived mistreatment of Nightline during the network’s effort to woo David Letterman last spring.

Still, ABC has made a significant investment in Mr. Kimmel-he is considered to be the network’s late-night future-and a prolonged series of wartime pre-emptions could be problematic for the launch of a new show, which already faces stiff competition from Mr. Letterman and NBC’s Jay Leno.

A spokesperson for ABC News, while acknowledging Nightline’s history of expanding coverage during wars and other serious news, said the network had not yet considered any such possibility should the U.S. invade Iraq.

“There have not been any discussions about extending Nightline ,” the spokesperson said. “The focus of the news division is very much upon aggressively planning for covering any attack. There’s a sense of: We’ll cover the news when we know what the news is.”

Mr. Kimmel, who said he had “no idea” if there had been any discussions at the network about how a war with Iraq would impact his show, was characteristically wise-assed about the suggestion.

“I just hope ABC realizes that, in the long run, the late-night war is more important than any so-called ‘real’ war,” Mr. Kimmel wrote in an e-mail.

So there you go, all you college kids-one more reason not to go to war: It’ll cut in on Jimmy Kimmel’s time! Stop snorting that Ritalin and take to the streets!

Tonight on ABC, The Bachelorette . One lady, 25 dudes, and not a single one of them puts the toilet seat down. [WABC, 7, 9 p.m.]

Thursday, Jan. 9

On Jan. 12, the big showbiz awards season kicks off with The 2003 People’s Choice Awards -also known as the “Idiots Like Me Prize”-and, as always, New York mom and daughter Joan and Melissa Rivers will be carpetside on the E! channel, dissecting the celebrity threads. If you haven’t seen it-and don’t lie; you have-Melissa plays the straight woman to her razor-tongued mama, who shows no remorse slaying fashion victims; though lately, according to published reports, she has had some trouble with rental-car agents who don’t recognize her.

Melissa said she’s mighty proud of the franchise that she and Mommy have kicked up with this red-carpet stuff, and though she didn’t agree with us that Nicole Kidman should wear the spiffy, prosthetic Toucan Sam honker she sports as Virginia Woolf in The Hours to all of this year’s awards fêtes-“I want to see her looking amazing,” she said-she did say that she and Mom are officially sick of men wearing that tired-ass, I-don’t-wear-a-tuxedo black-tie/black suit combo-or worse, a suit and no tie at all. (Last year, Ben Affleck showed up at the Oscars without a tie and looked like a junior broker zipping out of Merrill Lynch for burritos at Señor Swanky’s.)

“If these men stop and look at pictures of themselves, they always look better in a traditional dinner jacket,” Melissa Rivers said. And, we’re assuming, pants.

Melissa-who will also be covering the red carpets for the Golden Globes, Oscars and New York’s Grammys-thinks that even Eminem, who is known to be fond of the baggy velour sweatsuit, might want to consider a trip to the tailor, should he be nominated for his turn in Y Tu Mamá También -we mean, 8 Mile .

Eminem in a tux? “Yes,” said Melissa, who also called Slim Shady “one of the smartest men alive.”

Gushy love like that aside, are the celebrifreaks still getting miffed at Mean Old Mom and Daughter Rivers? Sure, but Melissa said that as the Rivers red-carpet show has built up its rep, stars are less irritated about the dissfest. She said Sela Ward-a former dissee, and rightly so-even came up to her once and told her that the barbs about one of her dresses were right on the money. In fact, stars try to lobby for better reviews-like Will Smith, who she said wore something “silly” to one awards show and then, the next time, showed up and asked, “Do you like this one better?”

(That Will Smith, always a crowd-pleaser.)

O.K., well, hang on till Jan. 12. to catch Melissa and Joan on the carpet for the big sequin parade. Any celebrity with any guts would wear a Dollar Rent-A-Car rental uniform and walk straight up to Joan and ask her if she wants “additional collision coverage.” Vrooooom!

Tonight on E, The True Hollywood Story about those kids from Saved by the Bell . Apparently, being Screech was not exactly the career liftoff Dustin Diamond was hoping for. [E!, 24, 8 p.m.]

Friday, Jan. 10

You know who is funny? Wanda Sykes. She’s been around for a while-she made a splash a few years back on the Chris Rock Show and was also in our boss’ favorite movie of 2001, Pootie Tang -but now she’s having a bit of a renaissance, after a fine supporting turn as Larry David’s take-no-crap neighbor on Curb Your Enthusiasm and even lightening up Bob Costas and the stiff jocks in suits on HBO’s Inside the NFL . Now she’s got her own-you guessed it-Comedy Central special called Wanda Sykes: Tongue Untied , and it premieres tonight. [COM, 45, 10 p.m.]

Saturday, Jan. 11

It is not terribly often that NYTV recommends that people stay home on a Saturday night and watch television-especially with Hunter off the air-but tonight there’s a gem so rich that you just want to convince your S.O. to linger on the couch to watch. You see, there’s this actor named Sean Penn, and he’s a great actor, and maybe a bit of a rambler, but recently he spent a chunk of time in Iraq, for which he’s taken a bit of ribbing-some of it probably undeserved, some of it probably deserved-but now he’s going to appear on Larry King Live , where he’ll look Mr. King straight in those glasses and tell him all about it. We’re betting it’s going to be riveting and super-weird in a fun Brando way, and we expect Mr. King to cut Mr. Penn off at one point during a discussion of Iraqi fuel reserves to tell him how much he enjoyed I Am Sam , and we also expect a grumbly middle-aged guest caller named “Billy from Levittown” who asks: “Hey, Sean? Why don’t you like me? And why don’t you come talk about Iraq on the Factor ?” [CNN, 10, 9 p.m.]

Sunday, Jan. 12

Oh, man, we are all sick. On TBS tonight: America’s Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story . [TBS, 8, 8 p.m.]

Monday, Jan. 13

NYTV was overseas last week-what, did you think we were gonna spend another New Year’s Eve with Dick Clark/Carson Daly, ay yi yi-and one day the telly was tuned into French MTV to catch some of Les Osbournes , and after about three or four minutes it was like, Wait, there’s something a little off here , and it was the naked cursing ! This being cosmopolitan Europe, all the “fucks” and “shits” and even worse-none of it was bleeped out. And all of the sudden, all the innocence of The Osbournes seemed to go poof! It sounded like watching the Super Bowl with our own Dad! No longer were those little Beverly Hills rock ‘n’ rollers charming, tart-tongued cuties-you just wanted to go wash out little Kelly and Jack’s mouths with a big bar of Irish Spring. Thanks, Europe! Still, if you want to catch the blue Osbournes, an MTV spokesperson tells us that MTV U.K., Germany and Italy also air the no-bleep version of the show.

Tonight on MTV, Diary features Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets basketball club. [MTV, 20, 10:30 p.m.]

Tuesday, Jan. 14

Tonight, WNET 13 has a show called Seven Secrets of Grand Central . Well, for starters, it’s reasonably easy to slip in and take a whizzer at the Oyster Bar, but you didn’t hear that from us. [WNET, 13, 10:30 p.m.] Will Saddam Scud Jimmy Kimmel?