It seemed that Jeff Probst might win the Emmy for Best Reality Host forever. In the four years since the category was created in 2008, the “Survivor” host won every time, so it came as a shock to Emmy watchers when the undefeated champ was left off the ballot entirely this year, throwing the race into flux.
Our Emmy predictors give the edge to first-time nominee Betty White (“Betty White’s Off Their Rockers“), who gets 19 to 10 odds to win her seventh career Emmy. Not far behind her is Phil Keoghan (“The Amazing Race“) with 7 to 2 odds. And Cat Deeley (“So You Think You Can Dance“) is nipping at their heels with 4 to 1 odds.
Below, we consider the potential strengths and weaknesses of each nominee.
Tom Bergeron, “Dancing with the Stars” (September 20, 2011, First live results show of season 13)
Bergeron is already a Daytime Emmy winner for hosting the game show “Hollywood Squares.” This is his seventh nomination in all and fifth in this category for ABC’s popular dancing competition series, but he has yet to win.
Pro: Bergeron emcees the “Dancing” results show with casual charm, showing a command of the live stage honed by years of experience.
Con: With recaps of the previous night’s dances, performances by special musical guests, and the protracted announcement of the eliminated couple, Bergeron doesn’t spend much time on screen.
Cat Deeley, “So You Think You Can Dance” (“Top 8 Perform”)
Deeley broke through in this category for the first time last year. She is the only nominee in this category who has never won an Emmy Award.
Pro: Deeley submitted a two-hour episode and has the most screentime of any nominee in this category, playfully interacting with judges and contestants with infectious charm without pulling focus from the competition at hand. She also has a brief, humble moment reacting to congratulations for her first Emmy nomination, which was announced not long before this live episode aired on July 27, 2011.
Con: The format of the show is repetitive, especially when the eight contestants return to perform for a second time, and even Deeley seems to tire of telling viewers how to text message their votes after every routine.
Phil Keoghan, “The Amazing Race” (“Let Them Drink Their Haterade”)
Keoghan has won eight Emmys as a producer of “The Amazing Race,” but he has yet to win Reality Host. This is his fourth nomination in this category.
Pro: “The Amazing Race” is loved by the Emmys, and Keoghan submitted the same episode for Reality Host that was submitted by the show for Reality-Competition Series. The show’s overall popularity with the TV academy could be enough to put its host over the top.
Con: Keoghan’s hosting duties are limited to describing locales, explaining challenges, and greeting contestants at the finish line. His very limited on-screen presence may be the reason he’s never joined the series in the Emmy winner’s circle.
Ryan Seacrest, “American Idol” (Audition Day: Portland, Oregon)
Seacrest is a two-time Emmy winner – in daytime for co-hosting the “Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade” and in primetime for producing “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” – but he has never won for “American Idol.” This is his fifth consecutive nomination.
Pro: Instead of a live competition episode, Seacrest instead submitted one of the earlier audition episodes from season 11, in which he introduces contestants in voice-over and has a few whimsical moments with singing hopefuls and their families. This change of pace may stand out against similarly formatted talent shows “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Con: “American Idol” is driven by the performances and personalities of the contestants, and Seacrest, whose screentime is limited, may be overshadowed by their emotional backstories.
Betty White, “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” (“Pilot”)
This is her first nomination for hosting NBC’s hidden camera show. She has six career Emmys, including a Daytime Emmy for hosting “Just Men!” in 1983.
Pro: The Emmys seem to love Betty White more with every passing year. She appears in the “Rockers” pilot in scripted skits leading into and out of the pranks, including a funny opening bit in which she alludes to a romantic past with actor Jon Hamm.
Con: White does not participate in any of the pranks, for obvious reasons (she’s too recognizable to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes), and being limited to a few brief skits may limit her chances.