Emmy experts predict Variety Talk Series: Battle between ‘Daily Show’ alums John Oliver, Samantha Bee & Stephen Colbert

Jon Stewart left “The Daily Show” in 2015 and won his last Emmy for Best Variety Talk Series that very year. Before that he had won 10 Emmys in a row for Best Variety Series (2003-2012) when talk shows and sketch shows were considered together (2015 was the first year that the Emmys split them). But even though Stewart is off the air, he’s still dominating the Emmys in a way. Comedians who cut their teeth on “The Daily Show” are now the frontrunners to win Best Variety Talk Series in his absence.

As of this writing eight Experts have weighed in with their predictions in this category. Five of those elite TV journalists are predicting a win for “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”: Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) and Adnan Virk (ESPN).

HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” won this award last year and was also nominated in 2015. Hosted by John Oliver, who was a correspondent on “The Daily Show” and also won three Emmys as a staff writer on the Comedy Central series, it was one of the fastest show from a “Daily Show” alum to assert itself at the Emmys. Since the variety categories have been prone to long-term sweeps — before “The Daily Show’s” decade of domination “The Late Show with David Letterman” won five years in a row (1998-2002), and afterwards “The Colbert Report” won twice (2013-2014) — “Last Week Tonight” could be at just the beginning of its Emmy reign.

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But not if Samantha Bee has anything to say about it. After spending 12 years as a “Daily Show” correspondent, she created “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” in the spring of 2016 and was widely expected to earn a nomination for Best Variety Talk Series last year. She missed the cut in that race, though the show did earn a nom for Best Variety Series Writing, demonstrating that it had significant support within the TV academy. This year two Experts predict it will not only be nominated but win: Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes) and Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine).

Stephen Colbert already broke “The Daily Show” stranglehold when his aforementioned “Colbert Report” won Best Variety Series twice. He left that show after nine years to take over David Letterman‘s spot on “The Late Show” in 2015, and our last Expert, Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), thinks he’ll win. Colbert’s “Late Show” was eligible last year but shut out after the show got a slow start with critics and in the ratings. But the show found its groove in the 2016-2017 season and even finished ahead of time-slot rival “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in the ratings.

None of our Experts are predicting a win for “Late Late Show with James Corden,” but all eight are predicting a nomination. James Corden took over the CBS series in 2015 and broke through with his first nomination in this category in 2016. He didn’t win this race, but he did win two others last year: Best Interactive Program and Best Variety Special for his “Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special.”

Predict Emmy for Variety Talk Series: Samantha Bee & Stephen Colbert redeemed as politics take center stage?

Five Experts are predicting a return nomination for “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” which would be the show’s sixth in a row. The ABC late-night series has never won this category, but Jimmy Kimmel is riding a wave of notoriety thanks to his well received hosting performances at the 2016 Emmys telecast and the 2017 Oscars.

Only four Experts are predicting a return nomination for Jimmy Fallon‘s “Tonight Show” even though he has been nominated for Best Variety Series for the last five years in a row. Perhaps there is concern that his uncritical interview with then-presidential candidate (now president) Donald Trump last fall will continue to haunt him with voters who might hold that against him. Fallon is nevertheless a four-time Emmy winner, twice for Best Creative Achievement in Interactive Media and twice for guest hosting “Saturday Night Live.”

Two Experts forecast a return nomination for Jerry Seinfeld‘s digital series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” which surprised Emmy pundits last year by earning a bid in this race. Seinfeld of course is a longtime Emmy favorite thanks to his self-titled NBC series, but it might come as a surprise to some that he has only ever won one Emmy out of his 17 nominations: Best Comedy Series for “Seinfeld” in 1993.

Also with support from two Experts is “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” South African comedian Trevor Noah took over the show from Stewart in 2015, but he hasn’t yet gotten the same traction at the Emmys as “Daily Show” alums who have moved on to other shows.

Three other talk shows have support from one Expert apiece: “Watch What Happens Live” on Bravo, “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on NBC and “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO.

Emmy Experts: Best Variety Talk Series

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