Exclusive: Jimmy Fallon on track to host this year’s Emmy Awards

NBC is close to naming “Late Night” host Jimmy Fallon as this year’s Emmy Awards host.

The net’s choice is expected to be revealed next week, and deals aren’t done yet.

But according to insiders, Peacock execs lobbied hard for Fallon — and TV Academy board members appear to be sold on the idea.

Among the other contenders: Jerry Seinfeld, who’s exec producing the Peacock’s Thursday night reality skein “The Marriage Ref”; or perhaps a reteaming of “Date Night” stars (and NBC Thursday night staples) Tina Fey and Steve Carrell.

Another possibility, Amy Poehler, is definitely unlikely: The “Parks and Recreation” star is set to give birth just days before this year’s kudocast.

NBC had no shortage of comedians in its midst who could easily double as Emmy hosts, given its Thursday night laffer block, late night shows and “Saturday Night Live.”

But the original likely choice for NBC Emmy host ankled the network in January. Conan O’Brien hosted the Emmys for the Peacock in 2006 and 2002 (the last two times the Peacock telecast the event). And as the new host of “The Tonight Show,” a repeat gig might have been obvious for O’Brien.

Then came this year’s late night debacle. Returning “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno hasn’t been in the awards show hosting business (although he did co-host the 1990 Emmys on Fox, with Jane Pauley and Candice Bergen).

Fallon, having taken over O’Brien’s old job on “Late Night,” makes sense if the TV Academy wants to reach out to younger viewers.

Fallon also has plenty of live TV experience, thanks to his days on “SNL.” He has also hosted the “MTV Movie Awards” and the “MTV Video Music Awards.”

Some insiders have suggested that Fallon may not be a broad enough TV star yet for the Academy board, particularly older members who aren’t familiar with his work.

But Fallon’s production team has earned raves this year for its taped bits, including the “Lost” parody “Late” and the “Glee” parody “6-Bee” — the kind of comedy pieces that might help invigorate the staid Emmy telecast.

What’s more, Fallon maintains a savvy Internet presence — including his Twitter account, which now boasts over 2.5 million followers. Social networking sites have been credited for helping juice ratings of most award shows over the past year — and it would seemingly be beneficial to hire a host with bona fide credentials in that space.

That’s especially true this year, as the Emmys will run in the little-viewed month of August (due to NBC’s September NFL committments) — and it’s going to take a massive effort to get viewers to tune in.

This year’s Emmy performance is more important than usual — as it comes on the eve of what promises to be a tough renegotiation to renew the current “wheel” rights deal with the broadcast networks.

Readers of ON THE AIR shouldn’t be surprised, of course. We asked you last month who Emmys producer Don Mischer should tap to host the Emmys — and Fallon came in a solid second, behind our imaginary pairing of Fey and Poehler:


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