Ellen DeGeneres. Neil Patrick Harris. Hugh Jackman. Billy Crystal. Let’s face it, truly great award show hosts are few and far between. Tina and Amy have put their (hilarious) hosting days behind them. The Emmys air on Fox Broadcasting this year, and Corden and Colbert can only do CBS; Fallon, NBC; and Kimmel, ABC. And while they’re certainly amusing, none of those guys have pulled in the ratings of their forerunners.
As awards show audiences have eroded over the years, celebs are second guessing whether they really want to risk bad reviews and social media backlash to take on a hosting gig. The Oscars, after the whole Kevin Hart incident, went hostless, and wound up with better reviews, ratings, and a brisker pace than previous years.
With Emmy noms out this morning, talk is that the “ghost host” is looking like a trend. “Normally, by this time of year, they would have named a host,” says Marcus James Dixon of GoldDerby.com, the premier online awards season speculation site. “That says to me that they’re either having problems finding one—or the right one—or considering no host at all as a major option.” Dixon reminds us that “Fox has no established comics doing late night shows, so there’s no obvious choice.”
GoldDerby recently conducted a survey of about a thousand industry people, giving them 15 choices for Emmys host and “no host” got the most votes (23 percent). Comic John Mullaney came in second, and Tiffany Haddish third. Surely the Television Academy and the show’s producers have taken note. “[Political conservative] Tim Allen got a small percentage of the vote,” says Dixon. “But then likely only Trumpers would watch, and never-Trumpers would boycott.”
One Fox Broadcasting insider (the TV studio is now owned by Disney, as opposed to Fox News, owned by News Corp) intimates that the powers that be are not announcing anything soon, but going hostless is clearly an option they’re considering. The insider believes that because so many shows have had their final seasons—Game of Thrones, Veep, in particular—precious airtime will need to be devoted to those casts and producers. The insider also believes the purpose of the Emmys is (and should be) to celebrate the embarrassment of riches of great shows on the air now, not to hand the stage over to a single host for excessive joke-cracking.
The insider does reiterate, however, that if the right host were to manifest, we will see them on September 22. Our money is on a ghost host rather than a roast host. And if the Globes go the same way, we have a trend on our hands.
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