The host

Will Kim­mel have last laugh in host­ing de­but?

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Jimmy Kim­mel makes his de­but as Os­cars host tonight. This gig can be some­thing of a poi­soned chal­ice, with nor­mally re­li­able names in­clud­ing Seth MacFar­lane, and even David Let­ter­man, fall­ing foul of au­di­ences and crit­ics alike. Kim­mel at least has form with this type of star- stud­ded, back­slap­ping event, hav­ing hosted the Em­mys in 2012 and 2016.

As for what to ex­pect, Kim­mel has a dis­tinct ace in his pocket. Many fans won’t be watch­ing for his over­all per­for­mance as much as how his “feud” with Matt Da­mon – who is in the run­ning for an award as a pro­ducer of Best Pic­ture nom­i­nee Manch­ester by the Sea – man­i­fests it­self dur­ing Hol­ly­wood’s big­gest night of the year. The pair have had an on­go­ing faux feud since Kim­mel cut Da­mon short on his chat show, Jimmy Kim­mel Live!, in 2005.

The phrase “apolo­gies to Matt Da­mon, we’ve run out of time” has be­come a meme, re­peated daily on the show, and Da­mon gamely plays along with mock anger.

The ac­tor got his own back at last year’s Emmy Awards, when host Kim­mel lost out to John Oliver in the Best Va­ri­ety Talk Se­ries cat­e­gory.

“You lost and now you’ve got to stand out here for the rest of the night in front of ev­ery­body when you prob­a­bly just want to go home, curl up and cry,” Da­mon said, be­fore turn­ing to the au­di­ence and ask­ing: “Can we cheer Jimmy up? He’s a big loser.”

With La La Land the favourite to win Best Pic­ture, on Sun­day the show might be on the other foot.

Chris New­bould

Jeff Lip­sky / ABC via Getty Im­ages

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