RuPaul Charles (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”) pulled off one of last year’s biggest Emmy surprises by winning Best Reality Host on his first try against past winners Jane Lynch (“Hollywood Game Night,” 2014-2015), Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn (“Project Runway,” 2013) and Tom Bergeron (“Dancing with the Stars,” 2012), as well as seven-time nominee Ryan Seacrest (“American Idol”) and first-time nominee Steve Harvey (“Little Big Shots”). But in a category that’s usually hard to break into, there are two open slots to fill and a number of new contenders in the running who could fill it.
“Hollywood Game Night” doesn’t return until June 22 and only aired one episode during the 2016-2017 eligibility period, so Lynch is out until next year’s Emmys. And of course “American Idol” ended its FOX run last season, so in the words of its host, “Seacrest out.” However, the singing competition is being revived in 2018 by ABC, so the show could yet return to the Emmy race. But for now there are two guaranteed openings in this category and no guarantee that all four returning contenders will make it back in given the number of new additions in this year’s race.
This season ABC revived a number of classic game shows, including “The $100,000 Pyramid” hosted by Michael Strahan, “Match Game” hosted by Alec Baldwin and “To Tell the Truth” hosted by Anthony Anderson. The network also introduced “The Toy Box” hosted by Eric Stonestreet, in which a panel of children judge amateur toy-makers to decide who gets their product made.
Key to these shows’ potential Emmy success is that their hosts are already familiar to Emmy voters. Baldwin and Stonestreet are both two-time winners for “30 Rock” and “Modern Family,” respectively, while Anderson is a three-time nominee for “Black-ish.” Even Strahan has an awards pedigree, having won two Daytime Emmys for hosting “Live with Kelly and Michael.” Being a past Emmy favorite undoubtedly helped Lynch win this category twice (2014-2015), and it helped Betty White earn three nominations for the prank show “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.”
Also new to the ballot is another past Emmy champ, Chris Hardwick, who debuted this season on NBC’s “The Wall,” which doles out cash prizes by dropping balls down a four-story pegboard, similar to the Plinko game on “The Price is Right.” Hardwick previously won a pair of Emmys for Best Creative Achievement in Interactive Media for his Comedy Central variety game show “@midnight.”
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