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Jimmy Kimmel announces summer leave amid blackface controversy

The Hill logo The Hill 6/19/2020 Joe Concha
Jimmy Kimmel wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Jimmy Kimmel announces summer leave amid blackface controversy © Getty Images Jimmy Kimmel announces summer leave amid blackface controversy

ABC's Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday announced he will be taking the summer off after facing criticism over wearing blackface in a recurring skit he performed while working on "The Man Show" on Comedy Central.

Kimmel, as a co-host of the "The Man Show," performed a recurring skit that included him dressed in blackface as then-NBA star Karl Malone. Videos and photos of the skits on the show, which ran from 1999-2004, have been circulating online recently with calls for Kimmel to apologize.

"I'm taking this summer off to spend even more time with my family," Kimmel said on Thursday night from his home studio. "There's nothing wrong. I'm healthy, my family's healthy, I just need a couple of months off."

"While I'm gone, a cavalcade of very kind and capable people will be filling in for me," the 52-year-old added.

The announcement from Kimmel comes after rival "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon recently apologized for a blackface skit he did on "Saturday Night Live" in 2000.

"In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in blackface," Fallon said on Twitter in late May following the police killing of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis. "There is no excuse for this. I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable."

Kimmel began as host of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" 18 years ago and has taped 3,130 episodes over that stretch.

The guest-hosted episodes will begin after Independence Day weekend on July 6.

Kimmel is slated to host the Emmy Awards on ABC on Sept. 20.

He last took a leave of absence in 2017 when his infant son was born with a congenital disease that impacts the heart and underwent several surgeries as a result. The host reported on the show in September 2019 that his son "is doing great."

Past guest hosts for Kimmel have included former 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, along with actors Matt Damon, Will Arnett, Kristen Bell, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt and Tracee Ellis Ross.

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