Jimmy Kimmel called in sick this week. Or rather, Kimmel took an emergency leave from Jimmy Kimmel Live! because his infant son Billy—whose heart ailment prompted the host’s high-profile late-night turn to the politics of health care reform this season—is preparing to undergo one of the several open-heart surgeries he’s expected to need to repair a serious birth defect. (Word is, Billy’s current troubles are more precautionary in nature, thankfully.) Still, it’s good to have famous friends, as Kimmel has called in a handful of favors to fill in for him this week. Shaquille O’Neal kicked things off on Monday, and the big guy did fine (he was Kazaam, after all), even if he started recycling his monologue jokes as the show went on. Dave Grohl at least dressed the part, as he performed his Tuesday hosting stint kitted out as the current-day, grizzled mountain man version of David Letterman. Jennifer Lawrence subs in on Thursday, where the self-proclaimed Keeping Up With The Kardashians fanatic will have Kim Kardashian West all to herself.
On Wednesday, though, it was Channing Tatum’s turn, and, after a pre-credits command from first guest Ellen DeGeneres, the Magic Mike star gave the people what they (and Ellen) wanted, in the form of a goofy, energetically choreographed dance number through the Jimmy Kimmel Live! backstage area. Accompanied by an undercover phalanx of featured dancers, the always deceptively graceful action star ceded the spotlight amiably to the pros, before strutting his stuff out to the main stage. (It was no “No Dames,” but it got things off to an endearingly electric start.) Once the monologue got going, Tatum was, like Shaq, appealingly game, although it’s unlikely Channing Tatum Live! is going into production anytime soon. Still, whether bantering with talk show vet DeGeneres or engaging in the sort of post-Halloween child abuse “I ate your candy” filmed prank that Kimmel and his viewers inexplicably find adorable, Tatum (who gave an awkwardly earnest toast to Kimmel “using his platform to help others and to speak out about issues he cares about deeply”) comported himself like the charmingly nimble lug you’d expect. Kimmel is expected to return to his show on Monday.