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Latenight directors recognized for ambition

Emmy noms reflect scope of comedy-variety shows

The nominees for director of a variety, musical or comedy series Emmy kept plenty of chainsaws in the air at once.

“These directors have gotta be really fast — when you make a judgment (for the Emmy), you’re looking for speed, agility and storytelling,” says Gil Cates, secretary-treasurer of the Directors Guild of America and a former producer of the Academy Awards.

Allan Kartun took on the bittersweet finale of “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien,” which effortlessly hopped from biting wit to tearful goodbyes and a Will Ferrell-fronted musical jam.

The densely packed, Betty White-hosted “Saturday Night Live” — with guests like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler — was sewn up by Don Roy King.

Chuck O’Neil’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” featured a gospel choir that seared Fox News, James Hoskinson told the story of “The Colbert Report” in Iraq and Jerry Foley wove the cast of “The Addams Family” into the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

All the nominees certainly demonstrated agility this year, streamlining the spectacles of farewells, supersized casts and offsite shoots. And Cates believes whoever wins will do so by a slim margin.

“It’s like judging an ice-skating competition,” he says.

VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SPECIAL

Helmers of major moments in politics, music, sports and the arts

Ron de Moraes (third nom, one prior win): “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music From the Civil Rights Movement” PBS

Joel Gallen(sixth nom, one prior win): “The 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert” HBO

Bucky Gunts (fourth nom, three prior wins): “Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony” NBC

Louis J. Horvitz (14th nom, six prior wins): “The Kennedy Center Honors” CBS

Glenn Weiss (two noms): “63rd Annual Tony Awards” CBS

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