ABOVE PHOTO: Quinta Brunson, right, winner of the Emmy for outstanding writing for a comedy series for “Abbott Elementary”, checks on Jimmy Kimmel as he lays on stage at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark Terrill)
By Lynn Elber
LOS ANGELES — “Abbott Elementary” creator-star Quinta Brunson took revenge on Jimmy Kimmel’s Emmy prank with one of her own, then collected an apology from the late-night host whose bit was criticized as rude and worse.
Kimmel, who had distracted attention from Brunson’s Emmy acceptance speech by lying pretend-drunk on stage, was delivering his monologue Wednesday when a pretty-in-pink Brunson appeared, award in hand.
“I have a little favor to ask,” she said. “So you know how when you win an Emmy you only have 45 seconds to do an acceptance speech, which is like not that much time. And then … you get less time because someone does a dumb comedy bit that goes on a bit too long?”
“I have heard of that happening in previous years,” Kimmel replied.
“Well, I was wondering, or no, more demanding if I could I have a couple of extra minutes to thank, you know, a couple of extra people,” Brunson said. Kimmel stepped back to cede the spotlight to his guest, and later in the show told Brunson he was sorry for what he’d done at the Emmys on Monday.
Brunson’s and Kimmel’s shows both air on ABC.
Brunson won the best comedy series writing award Emmy and found herself sharing the stage with Kimmel — who was flat on his back and dragged there by fellow presenter Will Arnett because Kimmel supposedly had too many “skinny margaritas.” Kimmel gave Brunson a thumbs-up for her award but didn’t budge, a decision that was blasted online as thoughtless by some and cited as an example of white-male arrogance by others.
“Abbott Elementary,” a mockumentary set in an underfunded Philadelphia school, earned a total of three Emmy Awards for its freshman season, including one for co-star Sheryl Lee Ralph for best comedy supporting actress.
On Kimmel’s show, Brunson received loud applause from the studio audience when she thanked “all of the fans of the show,” then joined the host for a chat.
He started out with a one-liner — “Congratulations on your Emmy. I missed it, how did it go?” — then turned apologetic, beginning with an awkwardly qualified mea culpa.
“That was a dumb comedy bit that we thought it would be funny,” he said. “Then people got upset, they said I stole your moment. And maybe I did. I’m very sorry if I did do that. I did do that, actually. … The last thing I would ever want to do is upset you, because I think so much of you. I think you know that. I hope you know that.”
“It’s very kind of you to say that,” Brunson replied, graciously, avoiding direct criticism of Kimmel. She said she was “wrapped up in the moment” after winning her first Emmy and with Arnett and Kimmel on stage with her.
“Honestly, I had a great night. It was a good night and a good time,” she said.
Kimmel, who jokingly blamed Arnett for what happened, lauded Brunson’s series and noted that he’s never won an Emmy despite repeated trips to the awards.
“And I went one time and won,” she said, delivering the dig with a smile.
Kimmel offered one last apology, adding, “I was dumb, and I’ve got news: It’s gonna happen again.”
Earlier Wednesday, Brunson and her cast mates fielded questions from TV critics during a virtual panel discussion, with Ralph expressing her displeasure with Kimmel’s Emmy act. “I was like, ‘Oh, the disrespect, Jimmy,’” Ralph recalled.
She sarcastically referred to it as “lovely that he was lying on the floor during her wonderful acceptance speech. “I told him too, to his face, and he understood,” said Ralph.
When Brunson was asked what she expected during her appearance with Kimmel, she said she was “anticipating that we are going to have a good old-fashioned time” and that she was intent on highlighting the season-two return of “Abbott Elementary” on Sept. 21.
Brunson said that she and Kimmel had already spoken but didn’t detail their private conversation. Backstage at the Emmys on Monday, Brunson said the bit didn’t bother her “that much” and noted that Kimmel has been a booster of her and “Abbott Elementary.” If she decides she’s mad at him, a smiling Brunson added, she might “punch him in the face” during her appearance on his show.