On June 29, variety show producers won their appeal with the Television Academy to bring back the fifth nomination slot in the Best Variety Talk Series category. The news was broken by our sister site Deadline, who revealed that “a group of high-profile executive producers went to the Academy to try and win back a fifth slot even though the number of submissions fell narrowly below the 20 they would need under its rules.” In all, just 19 shows submitted in the category this year, which would have yielded four nominations. But because the appeal was successful, there will now be five contenders. So what lucky talk show will nab that 5th Emmy slot, according to Gold Derby’s odds?
Let’s start with who’s out front. HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” has won this category for the past six years in a row, ever since “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” went off the airwaves. John Oliver‘s weekly program now has leading 13/5 odds to prevail again for a seventh time. That would put “Last Week Tonight” in second place on the all-time list of Best Variety Talk Series winners, ahead of six-time champ “Late Show with David Letterman” and behind only 11-time leader “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
In second place on our chart is “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” at 82/25 odds, which has been nominated the past five years in a row. Stephen Colbert‘s previous chat show “The Colbert Report” won twice as Best Variety Talk Series, but he hasn’t prevailed since joining the CBS late night program. The funnyman’s most recent Emmy victory came for producing the live variety special “Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020.”
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” comes in third place with 9/2 odds. Filmed on Hollywood Blvd, the series has been nominated 10 times in this race without a win, which is just two bids behind the category’s all-time loser “Real Time with Bill Maher” at 12 noms. Jimmy Kimmel himself is a two-time Emmy winner for producing “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” in 2019 and 2020.
Gold Derby’s fourth likely nominee is “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” at 11/2 odds. Trevor Noah‘s version of “The Daily Show” has been up the last four years in a row. The comedian won his only Emmy for “The Daily Show: Between the Scenes” in the Short Form Variety Series category in 2017, and he was also nominated last year for hosting the 63rd Grammy Awards.
That brings us to that coveted fifth slot. Currently at Gold Derby, the final season of “Conan” has 14/1 odds to be nominated now that the Television Academy has expanded the line-up. Conan O’Brien‘s show was nominated last year as the final episodes were airing — that was actually “Conan’s” first bid since 2011. As you’ll recall, O’Brien popped up several times during the 2021 Emmys broadcast, whether he was applauding loudly for the academy president or joining Colbert’s team onstage as they celebrated their victory.
Another show that could take slot #5 is four-time nominee “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” at 37/1 odds. Samantha Bee, whose voice stands out in the male-dominated arena, recently hosted her show while dealing with Covid-19 and poked fun at all of the other hosts who had to take time off work to deal with their own illnesses. Bee is a host that voters could rally around in light of current events, namely the SCOTUS ruling that overturned Roe vs. Wade.
There’s also “Late Night with Seth Meyers” at 72/1 odds, which has earned Emmy bids for writing and directing but never series. And of course, you can’t forget 12-time also-ran “Real Time with Bill Maher” at 78/1 odds, which was last nominated in 2017.
Other variety talk series tied at 100/1 odds include “Late Late Show with James Corden,” “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Desus and Mero,” “Watch What Happens Live,” “Nightly Pop” and “Hart to Heart.”
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