Last year, Jimmy Fallon won an Emmy for returning to “Saturday Night Live” as a guest host. And his talker “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” picked up its second successive Emmy bid for Best Variety Series.
While he lost that race to “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” — which extended its record winning streak to 10 — Fallon could find himself at the podium in 2014 as the new host of “The Tonight Show.”
On Wednesday, NBC confirmed that Fallon will be taking over the late night staple from Jay Leno in the fall of 2014. Leno, who took over from Johnny Carson in 1992, exited once before — in the fall of 2009 — but that absence lasted only nine months as Conan O’Brien proved to be a ratings flop.
However, Emmy voters gave O’Brien the seal of approval nominating his short-lived tenure at the helm for Best Variety Series in 2010.
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The last time Leno’s show merited even an Emmy nomination was back in 2003. It only won one of its nine bids: in 1995, when Leno was riding high following his interview with Hugh Grant days after his arrest for solicitation.
Leno may pull in the viewers but he lacks the edginess of rival David Letterman that appeals to Emmy voters. “Late Show with David Letterman” won Best Variety Show six years (1994, 1998 – 2002) and contended 16 times.
Leno lost the now-defunct individual variety performance category twice — in 1998 to Billy Crystal for hosting the Academy Awards and in 2005 to Hugh Jackman for presiding the Tony Awards.
While Letterman won four consecutive Emmys as part of the writing team on “Late Night” beginning in 1984 and was a perennial writing nominee for “Late Show,” Leno was never even nominated for his scripting.
He did win a second Emmy in 2011 for the web-based series “Jay Leno’s Garage.” That award was in the special class category (short-format nonfiction program).
Fallon also prevailed in one of those categories — interactive media nonfiction — in 2009 for the website for “Late Night.”