There will be no host on this year’s Primetime Emmy telecast. Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier confirmed the news on Wednesday morning during the network’s portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour.
Variety first reported in June that the network, producers and Television Academy were leaning toward going host-less with this year’s ceremony. And such a move seemed increasingly likely as the Emmys drew closer without a host announcement. With just a month and a half to go before the Sept. 22 event, securing a host at this late date would have been unlikely (though not impossible).
But it has been apparent that Fox is looking to shake up this year’s telecast, which included the unique decision to pair two different producers together to oversee the show: Don Mischer Prods. and Done+Dusted. Their mandate: Team up to give the Emmys a makeover.
Going without a host is part of that. It’s the first time the Emmy Awards has been host-less since 2003, when the show also aired on Fox. Without one, that gives the producers time to focus on other elements — including the new series joining the race for the first time, as well as the several iconic shows ending their run this year. In particular, it’s the swan song for HBO’s Emmy frontrunner “Game of Thrones,” which made history in 2019 with 32 nominations, the most ever in a single year for any series.
This year also happens to be a major anniversary milestone for some of the biggest TV series in recent history, such as the 30th anniversary of “Seinfeld” and the 25th anniversary of “Friends” and “ER.” Coincidentally, the Emmys may also want to recognize the upcoming 30th anniversary of Fox’s “Beverly Hills, 90210,” as Fox’s meta-filled “BH 90210” will have just completed its summertime run. It’s been rumored that Don Mischer Prods. and Done+Dusted have been eager to pay tribute to some of those fan favorite shows, which perhaps means some on-stage reunions.
Without a host, there’s also breathing room to showcase all of the awards and industry players being honored. With approximately 27 categories handed out during the ceremony, it’s usually a tight fit at the Emmys.
“Our job is to assess how to elevate the program in the year we’re lucky enough to broadcast it,” Collier said. “What’s interesting to me this year is how many shows we’re saying goodbye to. You have to look at the trade off. If you have a host and an opening number, that’s 15-20 minutes that you don’t have to salute the shows.”
Collier said no one was ever asked to host, although several names were discussed during preliminary planning. “We’ve had a lot of names on the board,” he said. “But the conclusion we’ve reached is that in this year when we’re highlighting so many shows that are going away that it would be a really strategic use of the Emmys to not have a host.”
The decision to go without a host also comes following last year’s disappointing ratings. The 2018 ceremony on NBC averaged a 2.4 rating among adults 18-49 and 10.2 million viewers, making it the least-watched Emmys on record. “Saturday Night Live Weekend Update” anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost hosted last year, to mixed reactions.
On the flip side, this year’s Academy Awards on ABC improved its ratings this year by 12 percent among viewers and 13 percent with adults 18-49. Most of the credit goes to this year’s crop of populist best picture nominees, but the fact that the show didn’t have a host — and perhaps moved at a quicker pace as a result — may have also been a factor.
“That was a piece of information that we gathered, it did do very well, it’s something payed attention to,” Collier added. “Spending more time on those shows and giving them a way to be elevated was the right thing to do.”
Besides 2003, the Emmys also went without a host in 1998 (on NBC) and 1975 (on CBS). Fox doesn’t have a late-night talk show franchise like ABC, CBS and NBC, so there was no obvious candidate to host this year’s Emmys on the network. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s” Andy Samberg hosted the Emmys in 2015, the last time it aired on Fox, but that show is now on NBC. It’s not easy to find the right host for key awards shows anymore, as many top-tier candidates see little upside to the gig, given the amount of scrutiny they receive in social media.
“It is a no-win type situation,” Jimmy Kimmel (who has hosted both the Emmys and the Oscars) told reporters earlier this week. “It’s a very difficult job, and even when it seems like it was great, you then go home and go, like, ‘Oh, some people didn’t think it was great.’ So if you don’t care about what people say, I think it’s a good gig. I do. So, for me, it’s kind of a f—ing nightmare.”
Now the conversation will shift to what Don Mischer Prods. and Done+Dusted have in store for this year’s host-free Emmy telecast — and such speculation might also trigger tune-in from curious audiences.
For Fox, this year’s Emmys is a chance to promote its new look (including more live sports) on the eve of the new TV season. Fox is heading into fall as an independent network (as most of its former siblings, including sister studio 20th Century Fox TV, are now a part of Disney), and this year’s Emmy telecast is, in some ways, a debut party for its new, slimmed-down organization. The Emmys traditionally serve as a bit of a kickoff for the new TV season, and Fox’s fall lineup gets underway the following night with “9-1-1” and new drama “Prodigal Son.”
The 71st annual Emmy Awards will air live from the Microsoft Theater at L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Fox.