Late-Night Shows Win Back Their Fifth Emmy Nom Slot After Showrunner Campaign

EXCLUSIVE: The late-night community has won back a fifth nomination slot for this year’s Emmys after a group of showrunners successfully campaigned the Television Academy.

It comes after Deadline revealed earlier this month that the Outstanding Variety Talk Series category was set to lose another nomination slot after only 19 shows were submitted.

Deadline understands 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.

This week, the Academy amended its Primetime Emmy Awards Rules & Procedures. It now states that if a category receives between 8 and 19 submissions, one must divide the number of submissions by 4 and round to the nearest whole number. This would give the Outstanding Variety Talk Series category 4.75, which rounded up gives it 5 nominations.

Emmy nomination round voting ended on Monday June 27 with nominations unveiled on July 12.

The move is a boon for the late-night world as it looks to prevent Last Week Tonight with John Oliver from winning his seventh consecutive gong and particularly good news for shows such as The Late Late Show with James Corden, which is heading into its final year with the Gavin & Stacey co-creator as host, Late Night with Seth Meyers and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which are likely to be vying for that fifth spot.

The conventional wisdom among late-night sources is that Last Week Tonight, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will take four of the slots.

The last time that only four shows competed in this category was 1993 when it was known as Outstanding Variety Series and Saturday Night Live beat out Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and MTV Unplugged.

In 2019 there were six nominees and this dwindled to five last year: Last Week Tonight, Conan, The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

It also increases the chances of diversity in the group, giving hope to Bee and Desus & Mero.

Real Time with Bill Maher also can’t be entirely discounted – it was nominated for Outstanding Variety Series every year between 2005 and 2014 and then in 2016 and 2017 when it became Outstanding Variety Talk Series but it hasn’t had a nom in the last four years.

The feeling is that Conan, which sneaked in with a few weeks to go, had its shot last year and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon hasn’t been nominated since 2016.

Over the last few weeks, sources Deadline spoke to were “sad” and “disappointed” by the potential nomination reduction, suggesting such a move would only increase the inevitability of another win for HBO. “At this point, it’s all about nominations since everyone assumes John Oliver wins anyway. You just want to be in the mix on noms,” one showrunner said.

There was also the frustration that they would have only missed out on five nominations by one submission.

There had been some anticipation that Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, could take on his protégé Oliver with his Apple TV+ series The Problem With Jon Stewart. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart won ten years straight between 2003 and 2012 and again in 2015. However, perhaps wisely, the streamer submitted the show in the Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special category, where he stands a much better shot at winning (although admittedly not as high-profile).

Fox News’ Gutfeld!, which rebranded in April 2021, was also missing from the submissions.

Elsewhere, The Amber Ruffin Show, Ziwe and Pause with Sam Jay were submitted in the Outstanding Variety Sketch Series category, which was a blow for the talk category but both shows stand more of a shot of being nominated alongside Saturday Night Live than they do in the talk category.

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