Established in 2008, the Best Reality Host race has became one of the easiest to predict as Jeff Probst (“Survivor“) has won all three times. This year welcomes a first-time nominee — Cat Deeley (“So You Think You Can Dance“) — who took the slot “Project Runway”‘s Heidi Klum had occupied for the past three years. And Deeley could well take the Emmy away from Probst.
Deeley entered a two-hour episode to prove herself. She introduces the top 11 dancers from season seven, who compete in their first week of eliminations. Her sassy, lively attitude sets her apart from the four fellows who make up the rest of the category. She has a refreshing candor, admitting she got in trouble in rehearsal for not introducing Nigel Lythgoe as “executive producer.” She also playfully impersonates judge Adam Shankman. Though she takes a backseat to the numerous dance routines, Deeley could benefit from being a fresh face in a category that rarely sees new blood.
“Dancing With the Stars“‘ emcee Tom Bergeron also submitted a two-hour episode, classical week which featured a super-sized orchestra. He is completely at ease hosting the 12th season of this show, playfully bantering with the judges and celebrity contestants. It’s easy to see why this four-time nominee won a Daytime Emmy in 2000 as the host of the classic game show “Hollywood Squares.”
For his third try for the prize, Phil Keoghan entered the premiere of the 18th season of “The Amazing Race.” Entitled “Head Down and Hold On,” this hosting gig kicked off with Keoghan throwing away paper airplanes the Australia-bound contestants bring him which aren’t labeled “Qantas.” He later reveals they must swim in a tank of sharks. He then narrated several more segments and divulged to the racers they’re still racing at the episode’s end. Though it’s nice that Keoghan didn’t have to send anybody home, it’s a less than competitive submission.
“American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest, who vies for the fourth year in a row, also had the luxury of not eliminating a contestant. He submitted a results episode where jazz singer Casey Abrams is saved from elimination by the judges. A particularly sweet moment has Seacrest revealing that the top 11 competitors, including Abrams, will all get to go on tour. Other hosting duties included introducing performances by Stevie Wonder, Sugarland, and one-time “Idol” also-ran Jennifer Hudson.
Probst cements his front-runner status with his entry, the racially charged “Rice Wars” episode. This segment of “Survivor” gives Probst more to do than all the other hosts combined. He does play by plays of a duel between competitors and an immunity challenge. But it’s the tribal council where he shines. He leads a heated discussion, pressing hard to get the competitors to find common ground after an accusation of racism that somehow started over rice.
Our experts, editors, and users all give Probst the win. Deeley is the only other nominee to figure in the race with Seacrest, Bergeron and Keoghan all expected to lose for the fourth time.