Will it be two in a row for Tom Bergeron (“Dancing With the Stars“) as Best Reality Host, or will perennial nominee Ryan Seacrest (“American Idol“) finally get his Emmy due on his sixth consecutive nomination?
After watching all six episodes submitted to Emmy judges by the nominees, it becomes apparent that these two contestants have the best chances to strike Emmy gold. In fact, both contenders submitted such strong episodes that it’s hard to imagine anyone beating them.
As we know, at the Emmys it’s oftentimes the savviest episode selections that propel nominees to the win. That’s how four-time champion Jeff Probst was able to prevail for so many years despite his series “Survivor” not being an Emmy favorite. Probst always had great scenes where he interacted with his contestants on a human level, as opposed to some of his competitors who’d routinely stare at the camera and recite phone numbers to the crowd.
With Probst and four-time nominee Phil Keoghan (“The Amazing Race“) both snubbed, this year’s race welcomed a couple new faces to the mix. Long-suffering “Project Runway” sidekick Tim Gunn finally got a nomination, but it came with a catch: his co-host Heidi Klum shares the nod with him. Anthony Bourdain (“The Taste“) also received his first hosting nomination for the inaugural season of his ABC cooking series.
And then there’s Betty White, back in the running again for “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” despite the show being canceled. White is an industry favorite, with 20 Emmy nominations to her name for various roles over the past six decades, so it’s never a good idea to bet against her.
Below, find brief descriptions and analyses of the six episodes submitted to judges by the nominees for Best Reality Host. Find out who wins when the Creative Arts Emmys are handed out Sept. 15, one week before the Primetime Emmys air on CBS Sept. 22.
Tom Bergeron (“Dancing With the Stars”)
Episode: “Performance Show, Week 5”
Airdate: April 15, 2013
Bergeron and non-nominated co-host Brooke Burke Charvet open the show on a somber note, giving thoughts and prayers to the victims of the Boston marathan bombing that had just taken place. He gazes into the camera and does his best to calm the nation the way an experienced newscaster would, saying, “Now, before we officially begin the show, we just want to take a moment. Our thoughts are with everyone in Boston tonight. I have family members and many friends there, my heart is with you. ABC News is monitoring the situation back there. They’ll keep you updated if we have any breaking stories.” Once the show officially begins, Bergeron is back to his hilarious best as he jokes with the dancers and judges. After one contestant says he’s hoping to skate by this week with the votes, Bergeron gives an instant classic one-liner, “We tried the skating show, it didn’t work.” Emmy judges tapped him as their champion last year, and now that Bergeron has the added duty of calming America after the Boston tragedy, he’s the frontrunner to receive his second trophy.
Ryan Seacrest (“American Idol”)
Episode: “10 Finalists Chosen”
Airdate: March 7, 2013
Seacrest opens this unique episode by explaining how the night will go: the 10 remaining guys and 10 remaining girls are all backstage, hidden away from the judges, their families and the loud studio audience. As he explains, “Aside from the finale, this is the most important event of the season, because tonight we find out who has made our Top 10.” Seacrest takes full reigns of the entire show from start to finish. He engages in a special one-on-one moment with each of the 10 victors just behind the massive stage door, dragging out the antipication for the studio audience as they wait to see who’s made it through. Seacrest is the ultimate ringmaster as he jumps back and forth flawlessly between the studio and the backstage holding area. If voters were ever going to give this five-time also-ran the trophy, it would be for this episode. This is an excellent choice by Seacrest, making him the dark horse to steal Bergeron’s crown.
Tim Gunn & Heidi Klum (“Project Runway”)
Episode: “The Ultimate Hard and Soft”
Airdate: January 25, 2013
Only once before was a hosting duo nominated together in this category: Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio in “Top Chef” (2009). In their episode submission, Klum joins Gunn during the announcement of the week’s task, a two-in-one challenge where the designers have to use items from a flower shop and a hardware store in their gowns. Usually Gunn does these announcements solo, so seeing Klum at the beginning of the episode signalled a change of pace. Both teams have 48 hours and $2,5000 to complete what Klum coyly declares, “the hard and soft challenge.” Gunn is his usual feisty self during the design process, while Klum pops up again during the final runway show where Bette Midler makes a surprise appearance as a guest judge.
Cat Deeley (“So You Think You Can Dance”)
Episode: “Top 8 Perform”
Airdate: August 29, 2012
Endearing and loveable as always, Deeley unfortunately doesn’t have any special moments that will help her stand out with Emmy voters. She introduces each of the final eight dancers — twice — and has her usual great banter with the judges, but there’s nothing to write home about with this episode choice. In other words, yes she’s great in this episode, but she’s great in every episode. Also in this submission, “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson joins the judging panel along with Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy.
Betty White (“Betty White’s Off Their Rockers”)
Episode: “Episode 201”
Airdate: January 8, 2013
Despite a wonderful career spanning decades, consider White out of the running to win an Emmy for hosting “Off Their Rockers,” unless voters decide to get sentimental. The problem isn’t White’s performance, but that she’s simply not a host. The series features hidden camera spoofs involving senior citizens as the pranksters, however White’s scenes are completely detached from the rest of the show. She doesn’t get involved in the pranking, nor does she introduce clip reels like a host should. Instead, she’s just kind of… there. All of her lines are scripted, and the few scenes she appears in play out like “Saturday Night Live” sketches. Case in point, she gets invited to Adam Levine‘s party and says that she’s excited to go because “Adam’s parties are sometimes clothing optional.” The episode ends with White and friends dancing “Gangnam Style” with special guest Psy.
Anthony Bourdain (“The Taste”)
Episode: “The Taste Finale: Triple Threat”
Airdate: March 12, 2013
“The Taste” is a cross between “The Voice” and “Top Chef,” featuring successful chef judges engaged in a series of blind taste testings prepared by aspiring chef contestants. In a controversial move, Bordaine’s role on this episode submission is actually that of judge/mentor, while most of the hosting duties fall to Nigella Lawson. This brings up an interesting question: If Bourdain can be nominated in the Reality Host category even though he’s primarily a judge, why can’t the judges on “American Idol,” “The X Factor” or “The Voice” do the same?