Every year when the Primetime Emmy nominations are announced there are pleasant surprises, shocking omissions and repetitive inclusions resulting in grumblings, rule-changes and annual requests to overhaul the entire process so that everyone is happy with the list of nominees and the ultimate winners.
The recent changes to the rules and the process seems to have finally payoff as the level of overall satisfaction with this year’s nominees is higher than it has been in prior years – unless you are a fan of Sons of Anarchy and/or Ugly Betty.
Anarchy had a bit of a breakout second season as its viewership increased significantly over its first season. Though the ratings fortunes for Betty weren’t as bountiful, the series did end its four-season run on a creative upswing. Neither series garnered any nominations despite pushes for Katey Segal as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and a fourth consecutive nod for Vanessa Williams as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
Despite these egregious and unforgivable snubs, the typically late-to-the-party television academy struck a refreshing balance between recognizing new, highly-buzzed about programs such as Glee, Modern Family and The Good Wife while also honoring veteran series (30 Rock, Mad Men and Lost) that have continually delivered sharp comedy and quality drama to audiences for several years.
Below are a few thoughts on some of this year’s other marquee, hotly contested and attention-grabbing category races.
Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Real Time With Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien
This has become one of the most interesting races of the year – with Conan O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” nominated over Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” and putting what some would say is a fitting coda to the entire Jay/Conan brouhaha that unfolded earlier this year. After seven consecutive wins, this may be the year the reign of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” comes to an end. If O’Brien submits his final episode, he’s stands a very good chance of heading to TBS with a lovely parting gift from his tenure at NBC. “The Colbert Report”, however, is also certainly overdue for a win after five nominations for each of its first five years on the air. After 35 seasons, the venerable “Saturday Night Live” has only won this award twice – after its first season in 1976 and then again in 1993. This year, the late-night staple is nominated largely on the strength of its May show hosted by Betty White (7 of the program’s 12 nominations this year are courtesy of the White). Rounding out the list is perennial bridesmaid “Real Time with Bill Maher” (which should be submitting in a special class category). Missing from the list is “The Late Show with David Letterman”, which took home this prize for each of the five years prior to Jon Stewart. Also missing are the deserving “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and the enjoyable “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”, both of which have been repeatedly overlooked.
WISHLIST: The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel Live*, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson*, The Late Show with David Letterman*
The elimination of the Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program award is one of the most ridiculous moves the TV Academy has made in recent years in order to make room for a new and even more ridiculous award category of Outstanding Reality Show Host — one of many such moves geared toward boosting ratings.
The Individual Performance Award had long since been a catch-all category with nominees from both series and specials. What the Academy should have done is split the award into two categories – one for performers in a regular variety or music series and the other for performers in a variety or music special. Instead individual performers of a regular variety or music series can submit in the already overly-competitive comedy actor or actress categories, while variety series hosts and performers in a special are ridiculously nominated with their respective programs. This should be the case with the Reality Show Hosts, NOT performers.
All this having been said, below is a wishlist of nominees for Outstanding Individual Performer in a Variety Series.
Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Series
Kristin Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Jon Stewart, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
Craig Ferguson, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien
Wigg is nominated for the second consecutive year as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her slate of characterizations. Stewart, Colbert and O’Brien are competing in the Series category with their respective programs. Like his program, Ferguson remains overlooked by the Emmy Academy but not here.
Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Jeff Probst, Survivor
If this unnecessary category must exist, it certainly shouldn’t be given the prestige of being presented right before the Drama Series and Comedy Series awards. The lineup of nominees for this award has gone unchanged since its inception. Probst has won this award for each of the two years it has been presented and ironically, the program he hosts is the only one without a corresponding nomination for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program. Criminally overlooked once again is Cat Deeley of “So You Think You Can Dance”.
There is no WISHLIST for this category except that it be eliminated.
Outstanding Reality – Competition Program
The Amazing Race
Dancing With The Stars
“The Amazing Race” has won this award for each of the last seven years it has been in existence with no plans to stop submitting themselves for consideration as it had been suggested last year in the press room. With the exception of Top Chef, each series nominated has a corresponding nomination for Outstanding Reality Show Host. “Survivor”, which ushered in this new era of Reality TV ten years ago, is curiously not nominated this year. Despite their competitive nature, “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars” might fare better in the Outstanding Variety Series category due to their respective singing and dancing elements. Sadly overlooked is “So You Think You Can Dance” which had its best season last summer prior to its unnecessary fall season.
There is no WISHLIST for this category either.
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Rolin Jones, “The Son”, Friday Night Lights
Michelle King and Robert King, “Pilot”, The Good Wife
Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, “The End”, Lost
Robin Veith and Matthew Weiner, “Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency”, Mad Men
Matthew Weiner and Erin Levy, “Shut the Door. Have a Seat”, Mad Men
This race comes down to the final episode of the multi-nominated “Lost” and the game-changing season finale of “Mad Men” (Shut the Door, Have a Seat), which capped the show’s best season yet.