The morning after comedian Sarah Silverman’s “I’m F—ing Matt Damon” video — the supposed couple’s duet about their affair — first aired on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” late last month, the clip was deemed a bona fide viral-video sensation. Links arrived in everyone’s inbox, and the obscenity-laden tune inspired numerous online parodies. Much more than that, though, the video riled up the vengeful side of Silverman’s boyfriend, Jimmy Kimmel.
On Sunday, minutes after “No Country for Old Men” was named Best Picture at the the Academy Awards, Kimmel had his revenge. It came in the form of “I’m F—ing Ben Affleck,” a hilarious video response featuring more than 20 musicians and A-list actors belting out a “We Are the World”-esque chorus. Less than 48 hours later, the video had clocked more than 2.5 million YouTube hits.
“Jimmy enjoyed every second, every morsel of [Silverman's video], but immediately began plotting his revenge — from the moment that Sarah and Matt’s video played on our anniversary show,” explained Jill Leiderman, the show’s executive producer. “The next morning, he said to me, ‘I need to get Ben Affleck.’ So I reached out to Ben’s representation, Ken Sunshine, and wrote him an impassioned letter explaining the chronology and history of the Matt Damon/ Jimmy Kimmel feud. … Within an hour, Ben was signed on to participate.”
The “feud” Leiderman references is not much of a feud at all, but more of a joke that has carried on for years. Kimmel frequently ends the show by saying, “Our apologies to Matt Damon, we ran out of time.”
“At the time he said that, on the show, the celebrity bookings were not of the caliber of Matt Damon. So to underscore that point, the irony of the joke was that Jimmy would say, ‘My apologies to Matt Damon,’ highlighting the fact that if Damon really had been sitting in the green room, picking at a fruit plate, how ballsy of Jimmy to not actually bring him out on the show,” Leiderman continued, adding that Damon’s was the first name that popped into Kimmel’s head when he came up with the jab. “It was a labor of love for our staff, to support Jimmy in his quest to seek revenge against Sarah and Matt.”
Kimmel’s video stars the likes of Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Don Cheadle, Robin Williams, Huey Lewis, Rebecca Romijn, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, “Lost” star Dominic Monaghan, Joel and Benji Madden, Josh Groban, Christina Applegate, Meat Loaf, Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell, Lance Bass, Joan Jett, “Superbad” thespian Christopher Mintz-Plasse and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ Dicky Barrett, along with a gospel choir.
“Hearing a gospel choir and 20 celebrities singing this song about Jimmy and Ben f—ing each other was the most resonant, rich sound, bellowing and bouncing off the walls of the recording studio — it was a religious experience,” Leiderman joked, adding that Sunday’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” repeats this coming Friday. “We delivered 22 celebrities in a single comedy piece, and for my money, that’s redefining late night.”
According to Leiderman, it was Affleck’s idea to wrangle Harrison Ford for an appearance. “Ben found out that Harrison had seen [Sarah's] video and was tickled by it, and he encouraged us to reach out to Harrison to participate,” she said. “They came back and told us that Harrison was interested in participating in any capacity we wanted him to — and he spent the entire day with us, shooting at the Roosevelt Hotel [in Hollywood] and then over at the recording studio. He was a trooper to be part of Jimmy’s revenge.”
As for the musicians who took part, Leiderman said a list was culled, based on the show’s past guests. The names on the list constituted those who had shown themselves to be comically inclined — or had some affiliation with Kimmel, Affleck, Silverman or Damon.
“When it came to Josh Groban, he was an artist we brought in because he trusts Jimmy’s comedic sensibility, and when he’s been on in the past, he has always wanted to do a comedy bit with us,” Leiderman explained. “So we knew he would be an exemplary artist to participate, and he knocked it out of the park. His voice added the exact gravitas we needed for this piece,” which, she added, is the most expensive piece of tape to ever air on the show, “and worth every penny.”
Were there any artists or Hollywood types who turned down an offer to aid in Jimmy’s quest? If there were, Leiderman isn’t talking. “The beauty of whomever we couldn’t get means there’s room for the next incarnation,” she hinted. “Jimmy made his sentiment clear in the video, so I can’t imagine there’s any more to say. If Matt chooses to respond, we are certainly interested in what he has to say. In the interim, we’re hoping that he and Sarah are very happy together.
“Everyone recognized how impassioned our request was and how there was an altruistic angle to this, which was that Jimmy and Ben needed to pronounce their love as publicly as possible and needed the celebrity support,” Leiderman continued.
For Fall Out Boy’s Wentz, signing on for the video was a no-brainer.
“Pretty much everyone there was a riot — egos all checked at the door for the most part,” Wentz told MTV News on Tuesday (February 26). “Dominic [Monaghan] and I would pretty much bug Harrison Ford the whole time. Every time he would put the headphones on, we would be like, ‘Tell us about “Indy 4,” ‘ and he’d be like, ‘What?’ And then we’d say, ‘Never mind.’ I can’t believe he got Huey [Lewis] on it. Jimmy’s a funny guy, and I have to admit the Affleck idea is pretty insane. Besides, who would [turn] down the chance to do some homoerotic song that has Brad Pitt in it?”