Alex Winter is known primarily as Bill S. Preston Esq. in the Bill & Ted trilogy, but he also worked as a director in the early days of Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2003, and was back on the show to promote his new Frank Zappa documentary Wednesday night when he took time to remember when the show was a bit more "bananas."
"Everything was live, shoot the thing in five minutes, get it to edit, everyone's thinking they're about to be Walter Cronkite or something, like the Nightly News," Winter said. "It was insane. Everyone was so serious, and you'd be like 'guys, we're blowing fecal matter at Uncle Frank. We're not actually deciding the outcome of the world."
Longtime Kimmel fans will remember Frank Potenza, aka Uncle Frank, who was a staple on the show since its inception until his passing in 2011. They played pranks on him often, and recalled one of their biggest disasters.
"This was my idea, actually," Kimmel said. "I was thinking about how far we could push things for Uncle Frank, and I thought 'wow, what if, in the middle of the night, Frank Sinatra's ghost appears to him' — because used to work for Frank Sinatra — 'and starts speaking to him?' Yeah, you guys snuck in there, we got a guy who looked like Frank Sinatra."
"We did one routine where we snuck into his apartment, I don't know, at 9 in the morning," Winter said. "We waited, he came home, we were all, like, in his closet and under his bed, and we waited until he went to sleep and we beamed Sinatra's ghost onto his ceiling."
"As I recall, he didn't believe it for even a second," Kimmel said.
"Dude," Winter replied. "It was a complete disaster."
Jimmy Kimmel Live! airs weeknights at 11:35 PM ET on ABC.
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Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.