Road to the Emmys 2012: Reality, Nonfiction & Competition Nominees
First-person take: ” ‘Antiques Roadshow’ is just smart reality TV — you learn something new about history and culture with each appraisal and you hardly even notice how educational it is,” says exec producer Marsha Bemko. “The El Paso, Texas episode was a blast: There was someone who brought in a collection of Andy Warhol pieces that they bought from Andy himself. They had Andy sign a couple of normal soup cans and now they’re worth something like $1,500 to $2,000 each.”
Awards pedigree: Bemko has received nine other noms for her work on the reality show; supervising producer Sam Farrell has shared the noms with Bemko since 2007.
One critic’s view: “The fun of watching ‘Antiques Roadshow’ is, of course, in the surprises, the man who brings in a Navajo blanket and is told — drum roll — that it could fetch $350,000 to $500,000.” (New York Times 2002)
“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution”
First-person take: “Because Jamie was brave enough to raise questions and push Los Angeles educators to change the way they’re feeding kids in schools, a significant result was achieved — the ban of flavored milk — in the nation’s second largest school district,” says exec producer Ryan Seacrest.
Awards pedigree: The show previously won the category in 2010, this is its second nom.
One critic’s view: “Even a less-perfect ‘Food Revolution’ is better than none, and if Oliver makes us feel his frustration in trying to get a bureaucracy to let him improve a school menu, that’s a statement in itself. If not wholly satisfying, at least it’s an appetizer.” (Time magazine)
First-person take: “We’ll experiment with something just because we can and that’ll lead to fascinating conclusions that you wouldn’t have reached thinking straightforward,” says Adam Savage, co-host and exec producer on the show. One perfect example? “The myth where we investigated whether you can drive on square wheels,” says co-host and exec producer Jamie Hyneman. “As it turns out, square wheels are superior in loose sand or mud. Who would’ve thought?”
Awards pedigree: This is the show’s fourth nom in the category.
One critic’s view: “It may be the best science program on television, in no small part because it does not purport to be a science program at all. What ‘Mythbusters’ is best known for … is blowing stuff up. And banging stuff together. And setting stuff on fire. The two men do it for fun and ratings, of course.” (New York Times 2006)
First-person take: “(The show is) the nucleus of what this nation means: Having a great idea and succeeding with it,” says exec producer Mark Burnett. “One that sticks out is Readerest, which uses magnets to give you a place on your shirt to securely hang glasses of any kind. It’s already gotten $3 million in sales — what an achievement.”
Awards pedigree: Burnett won an Emmy (“Survivor”) in 2001 when the show was included in now-defunct non-fiction program (special class) category.
One critic’s view: ” ‘Shark Tank’ works because the panelists are personable and focused and the format lets them develop personalities.” (New York Daily News)
First-person take: “In this economy, people are asking why CEOs are still earning so much money while the people at the bottom suffer,” says exec producer Chris Carlson. “It was amazing to be out on this huge fishing vessel for the ‘American Seafoods’ episode. You don’t really know, as a consumer, where your seafood comes from and what happens to fish before they hit the table.”
Awards pedigree: This is the show’s third nom in the category.
One critic’s view: “It’s comforting, of course, to think the guys in charge really hide big hearts underneath those Armani suits, and that witnessing the conditions endured by ground-level staff will make them better managers.” (Variety)
“Who Do You Think You Are?”
First-person take: Series exec producer Lisa Kudrow points to the Helen Hunt episode as a particular highlight. “She learned that her great-great-grandmother was part of the Christian Women’s Temperance Movement, and so it turned Helen’s stomach a bit to find out her ancestor was a prude,” Kudrow says. “But when she found how men would get drunk and beat women and abuse them, she realized how important the movement was toward women’s rights.”
Awards pedigree: Exec producer Alex Graham was nominated for non-fiction reality program (“Frontier House”). Exec producer Al Edgington has won for reality-competition program (“The Amazing Race”)
One critic’s view: “None of these results will rock a viewer’s world, but it’s unexpectedly satisfying to see stars in a reality project that’s more relatable than ballroom dancing or a temporary work detail for Donald Trump.” (People Magazine on Season One):
“The Amazing Race”
First-person take: “I think we had a very strong cast that was not only funny but sensitive to their environment, and a route that was extraordinary,” says exec producer Bertram Van Munster. “We got fish out of water, people that had never traveled and said ‘Wow, the world is a very different place.’ “
Awards pedigree: “The Amazing Race” has dominated the category since its inception, racking up eight wins and only losing in 2010 to “Top Chef.” One critic’s view: “With a million dollars on the line, it’s easy to understand why competitors approach each task with great seriousness, but when you’re sitting at home watching a grown adult twirl around with a water bottle atop his or her head — their eyes burning with the intensity of a neurosurgeon — you have to smirk a little at the incredible hoops (host) Phil (Keoghan) and the producers put these people through.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“Dancing With the Stars”
First-person take: “We’ve been on for 15 seasons and we’re still finding new heroes on the show,” says exec producer Conrad Green. “We literally had a hero with JR Martinez (in Season 13), his victory … watching him grow as a performer … goes to the core of what the show is all about.”
Awards pedigree: The series has been nominated seven times for the category.
One critic’s view: “One of the things I love about this show … is that it never really matters which names are on the cast. … This random group of people is basically reborn for our amusement — hatched from a giant Faberge egg in the middle of outer space — to dance for us.” (Entertainment Weekly)
First-person take: “I think that was one of the best things about season nine was that we had people who were very ‘who they are’ and they couldn’t help themselves,” says exec producer Sara Rea on the highlights of the show’s past season. “Anya was very charismatic and Joshua was explosive and dramatic.”
Awards pedigree: The series has nabbed eight noms in the category.
One critic’s view:
“We’re midway through this season of PR, which is the best one in quite a while — as far as personalities, anyway.” (Wall Street Journal; Speakeasy Blog)
“So You Think You Can Dance”
First-person take: “I used to say that in the choreography the guys are asked to go more than the girls, but with the two girls (Melanie Moore and Sasha Mallory) that were so strong, I think we termed them ‘the beasts’ because there wasn’t anything they couldn’t do,” says exec producer Nigel Lythgoe
Awards pedigree: This is the show’s second nom in the category.
One critic’s view: “The level of the show is much better now. The all-stars bring charisma and chops, and the competitors seem to be challenged.” (Entertainment Weekly)
First-person take: “Just being in Texas, it was the biggest season we’ve ever done in terms of scale and ambition, we took them to more cities in one season than ever have before, had them cooking all through the night twice, had more hospitalizations than we’ve ever had before just because of the sheer stress and heat of working in summer in Texas,” said exec producer Dan Cutforth.
Awards pedigree: The show has been nominated in the category six times, beating out “The Amazing Race” in 2010.
One critic’s view: “The contestants, as ever, seem chosen for hair, beards, headbands, and tattoos per square inch; one guy sports what looks like a mohawk with a squirrel on top. One is a dead ringer for Mama Cass.” (Esquire)
First-person take: “I feel that, seeing the tables turned, whereby the coaches are pitching themselves, and we have unknown, unproven talent, whose voice just breaks through, and you’ve got superstars trying to convince these unknown singers to join their team, it’s on the pulse of the nation,” says exec producer Mark Burnett.
Awards pedigree: Burnett has six other noms in the category. Supervising producer Mike Yurchuk has additionally been nominated for reality-competition program.
One critic’s view: “The talent level is higher. Christina (Aguilera) is mouthier. Adam (Levine) is cockier. Cee Lo’s sunglasses are bigger. Blake (Shelton) is … well, Blake-ier, with a charm that’s made from that special brand of cornball that’s only grown in Nashville.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“The Amazing Race” (CBS)
Awards pedigree: This is his fourth nom in the category.
“American Idol” (Fox)
Awards pedigree: This is his fifth nom in the category.
“Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” (NBC)
Awards pedigree: This is White’s first nom in the category.
“Dancing With the Stars” (ABC)
Awards pedigree: This is his fifth nom in the category.
“So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox)
Awards pedigree: This is Deeley’s second nom in the category.
Boy and girls in the brand
And the nominees are:
Reality Program | Competition Program | Reality Host | Nonfiction Program | Nonfiction Series