Talk about instant validation.
No sooner had the five nominees for top reality host absorbed the shock of being the first nominees in their new category than the calls came in about hosting the Emmys.
“Now I can blame four other people if anything goes wrong,” says Ryan Seacrest, who went solo last year as the Emmy host. “Actually, here you have people who do hosting for a living and are unique to this year because of the new category, so why not?”
Jeff Probst was working on the next “Survivor” in Gabon when he got the email asking him if he’d be interested in the gig.
“To first have the Emmys create a reality host category and then ask us to host was a pretty nice gesture,” he says. “Of course, there is the obvious audience factor. More than 70 million people watch our shows, so obviously having us host might get some people from those five different audiences. Still, I bet a lot of people were saying, ‘First you give them a category and now the hosting duties? Enough already!'”
Knowing your co-hosts are also your competitors could put a strain on the operation, but the nominees say that finally getting the Emmy recognition is a prize unto itself.
“To be nominated is a huge accomplishment. I’m not even thinking about the possibility of winning at this moment,” Heidi Klum says. “I will be shimmying into more than a few nice frocks Emmy evening, you can count on it. I feel it would be rude not to.”
That alone might incite more viewers to tune in. But other than the obvious play for a larger audience, using hosts who don’t need a script to find the drama or the comedy can be an asset to a live show.
“From a viewing standpoint, the reason you watch these shows is to see if your favorite actor is in the bathroom when the award is announced or if they read a teleprompter as if they just got Hooked on Phonics,” Tom Bergeron says. “What I love is the unpredictability of a live show, and I don’t plan to over-rehearse this. I want to be reactive.”
Howie Mandel says no matter who wins or loses in the category, he feels as if he already came up a winner with “Deal or No Deal.”
“Just having the job is the trophy for me,” Mandel says. “That being said, it would be really nice to win. And I did go to IKEA and looked at some shelves.”
Seacrest isn’t counting his chickens just yet.
“We’re all in this business because we are competitive people, but we all like each other, so I think it will be fine no matter who wins,” he says. “Jeff and I have sat together at the Emmys and lost together at the Emmys. We’re used to staying in our seats when the winner is announced. The heart beats for a minute, and then they announce ‘The Amazing Race’ has won. There’s not a lot of cardio after our category.”