Less than a year into his tenure at NBC’s “Late Night,” Seth Meyers will take the stage Monday night as host of the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards. The job has plenty riding on it: Last year’s Neil Patrick Harris-hosted ceremony brought in the kudofest’s highest ratings in eight years, while this year’s Oscars — complete with Ellen DeGeneres’ famous selfie photo — was the highest rated of that ceremony in 14 years. Is Meyers up to the task? He recently spoke with Variety about the upcoming awards show, which airs live at at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC.
Jimmy Fallon had success when he hosted the Emmys in 2010 and “SNL” vets Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did so well at the Golden Globes. Is there something about “Saturday Night Live” that prepares you for being a good awards show host?
The “SNL” schedule certainly helps you with this idea that the week leading up to, in this case the Emmys, is when you’re going to get your best work done. We just sat down on Tuesday to do our first joke read and it gave us a sense as far as monologue that we’re a little over halfway there, which is great. We can send people off to write more jokes. But it’s great to be surrounded by people who know how to write jokes under pressure.
How did you choose the writers?
I brought my writing staff from “Late Night,” as well as people that I’ve just sort of trusted over the years that I’m confident at some point that I’ll be able to repay the favor. You kind of call all cars in a situation like this and fortunately, over the years, I’ve met a lot of talented cars.
Was there anything that NBC said you can’t talk about?
No. It’s funny because other than NBC very kindly asking me to do this, most of my interactions have just been with [show producer-director] Don Mischer and his team. At some point, when we start showing them the takes we’ve written, there might be one or two points. But at this point, no one has pushed us one way or another.
Did you have to change anything around because the show is on a Monday this year?
No, but I think America probably had to change things around. They’ve got to remember to watch it.
Is there anything in particular we should expect from you for the show?
We’re really hoping to have really good jokes all the time. With something like this, the level of success is because the jokes are really good. We hope that by the time the monologue’s over, which is obviously the most important thing the host does, that people are going to be good and ready for the next few hours of awards.
Ellen DeGeneres threw down the gauntlet with the Oscar selfie this past year. Do you have something prepared that you think will challenge the success of that stunt?
We’re talking with some local supermarket chains about some promotional opportunities.
So no digital component?
At one point I’m going to take out my Blackberry and try to download an app. We’ll see how long that takes.
But um, I think there will be some kind of digital element but we aren’t really approaching it that way. We’ll see what comes up. The nice thing is when events happen now, Twitter makes it digital without you having to do anything.
“SNL” just lost longtime announcer Don Pardo. Will you be doing a tribute to him in any way?
That’s a question for Don Mischer. But [Pardo and Robin Williams] are people who, considering their place in television history, I’d be surprised if they weren’t properly honored.
Since this is your first time hosting, was there any past host you’re using as a role model for this event?
I’m always so impressed when, like when Fallon did it four years ago or when Conan did it, when you watch people who are just good at this stuff and just build it around their strengths. I think that’s good to remember and to try to do your Emmys as opposed to try to do you someone else’s Emmys.