This year’s Emmy race for Best Variety Talk Series was so intriguing because three of the nominees are no longer on the air. And each of those was a multiple winner in the previously-named Best Variety Series category over the past two decades. Emmy voters reached back to the biggest winner of all, “Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” which won for a jaw-dropping 11th time.
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This year marks the first time at the Emmys for this version of the category focused solely on talk shows. An additional category — Best Variety Sketch Series — inherited new winner “Inside Amy Schumer,” long-time contender “Saturday Night Live,” and “Drunk History,” “Key and Peele,” and “Portlandia.”
For the talk show race, it took Stephen Colbert a long time to overtake parent program “Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” but he finally accomplished that by winning in 2013 and 2014. Colbert was projected to win again on Sunday with 6/5 odds. He ended his Comedy Central run last December and recently debuted the revamped “Late Show” on CBS.
Stewart dominated this category for a decade (2003-2012) with his satirical political series on Comedy Central. The show was in second place with 10/3 odds. He also left the network in August, and the summer episodes should have kept him eligible for one more Emmy Awards cycle in 2016. But he confirmed in the press room that he will not contend again; those episodes will not be entered.
David Letterman was the other of this year’s contenders to leave television this year. He had a 33-year late night run, with 11 on “Late Night” for NBC and 22 on “Late Show” for CBS. His finale gave him 4/1 odds for third place. A victory would have provided him with one last Emmy after winning this category six times (1994, 1998-2002).
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” from HBO was the only newcomer in this category. Oliver first became well-known working with Stewart and started his own weekly show last year. He was in fourth place with 15/2 odds.
Next up with 33/1 odds was the most popular program in the late night wars, “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” While Fallon has picked up four Emmys himself, neither this current NBC show nor his previous version of “Late Night” has won the top program Emmy yet.
The last spot with distant 100/1 odds was held by “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” This was the fourth straight nomination in this category for the ABC program.
Photo Credit: ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart/Comedy Central/REX