Just days after Jimmy Kimmel hosted the Oscars, his talk show’s executive producer (and his wife) Molly McNearney is setting the record straight about how some viewers thought he said Rihanna’s name wrong during the show.
“We had two versions of the monologue,” Kimmel’s wife Molly McNearney told Variety. “One if Rihanna was in her seat, one if she was not in her seat. One if Rihanna had her baby on her lap, which she wanted to do. And one if her baby was not on her lap. A lot of our jokes were kind of at the mercy of people being in their seats.”
As it turns out, he was actually saying Rihanna’s name the proper way, which is to rhyme it with “anna” like “banana.”
“Jimmy is obsessed with pronouncing people’s names correctly,” McNearney said. “There is a guy at the show whose job is to find the pronunciations. We always find video of the person saying their own name on camera. And that is the way you pronounce Rihanna. There’s a whole interview with her about it.”
“Jimmy said, ‘I want to call her the way the name that she calls herself.’ And that’s how she says it in Barbados,” she added. “It felt funny to people. Now America knows how to pronounce her name, although they won’t. They’ll just assume Jimmy f*cked up but no, he did not!”
Even though the proper pronunciation of Rihanna’s name has been public record for over a decade now, people continue to say “Ree-awn-uh”… but not Kimmel.