Road to the Emmys: Reality, Non-Fiction & Competition

W hile there’s rarely little year-to-year change in the reality host category, Cat Deeley has shifted the equilibrium with her first-ever nomination.

Deeley, the lone femme in the 4-year-old category and the bubbly British-born fashion plate-cum-host of Fox’s hit “So You Think You Can Dance,” is taking Heidi Klum’s place as last year’s single female nom for Bravo’s “Project Runway.”

Noms Phil Keoghan (PBS’ “The Amazing Race”), Ryan Seacrest (Fox’s “American Idol”) and Tom Bergeron (ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars”) are all trying to stop Jeff Probst’s three-year winning streak. As a matter of fact, Probst is the only winner of this category, which was created for the 2008 Emmys.

Probst is nominated again, and it’s always difficult to decipher how voters determine a winner in the host category. Is it based on their ability to improvise during a live show — “American Idol,” “Dancing With the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” — or ability to integrate with the contestants in competition shows that are pre-recorded.

Keoghan arrives at this year’s Emmys with seven statuettes, although those are for being a producer on “Race,” not as a host. Bergeron, who’s hosting duties stretch as far back as the early ’80s and the local Boston teen talk show “Rap Around,” and Seacrest, arguably today’s hardest working — and most ubiquitous — game player in all of reality TV land, have yet to win Emmys for the respective shows for which they’re most associated.

Clearly, whoever takes home the hosting Emmy will be back for another to season to defend their title. If these shows have anything in common, it’s that they all remain Nielsen winners and will be around for many seasons to come.

Phil Keoghan
“The Amazing Race” (CBS)
Why he might win: The show has long been Emmys favorite, and lost for the first time last year after winning seven years in a row. Probst was a big part of that winning tradition.
Maybe not : The loss last year might mean Emmy voters are off the “Race” bandwagon and comfortable making a change elsewhere.

Ryan Seacrest
“American Idol” (Fox)
Why he might win: While “Idol” has lost and gained judges, Seacrest, whose name is virtually synonymous with the reality TV format, has maintained a consistent likability on a show that might otherwise have lost its footing.
Maybe not : With Simon Cowell gone, Seacrest lost his main antagonist. That means there was less of the edge-of-your-seat confrontations between the two, making Seacrest less an integral part of the between-contestants banter.

Tom Bergeron
“Dancing With the Stars” (ABC)
Why he might win: Bergeron is due. He’s been nominated all three years the category has been in place and “Dancing” remains as viable a reality force as it ever has. He also has affable personality and on-camera ease that has been thus far overlooked and underappreciated.
Maybe not : His ease with contestants may actually work against him. Those who make the job look too simple don’t often get the credit they deserve.

Cat Deeley
“So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox)
Why she might win: Being the sole female nominee can help. When looking for a distinguishing factor, that could make a difference. Also, she’s a bit saucy, and that can only help.
Maybe not : It’s her first nom, and with so many vets in the category, voters might wait a bit before awarding the rookie in the bunch.

Jeff Probst
“Survivor” (CBS)
Why he might win: He’s been the only winner of this category since its inception, so obviously the voters see something that sets him above the competition.
Maybe not : Because he’s monopolized the category, voters might decide to fete another deserved host that’s equally paid his dues (perhaps Bergeron or Seacrest).

ROAD TO THE EMMYS: REALITY, NON-FICTION & COMPETITION
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