EMMYS: Bill Maher's Longest Losing Streak

Bill Maher has received more Primetime Emmy Award nominations without earning a single win than anyone else past or present in the TV industry. Still, his record losing streak reached a frustrating 26 last year and eclipsed even Susan Lucci who was 0-for-19 before she won, and Angela Lansbury who is still 0-for-18. But the stand-up comedian-turned-late night talk host of Politically Incorrect (1993-2002, first on Comedy Central and then ABC), and now HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher (since 2003) retains a sense of humor about it all as he talks to Deadline TV Contributor Ray Richmond:

DEADLINE: So at this point it’s safe to assume that the TV Academy thinks you’re worthy of nominations but not of wins….
BILL MAHER: Yes, I think I get it now. And I’m really OK with it. In fact, clearly at this point, winning would only fuck things up. I’d lose all of my street cred.

DEADLINE: Seriously, why do you think the Emmy eludes you?
MAHER: There are two things at play. One is that you can’t be as outspoken as I am on a number of issues and earn awards from a mainstream body in Hollywood. For example, my stance on religion. Right there, you probably lose the Emmy. I’ll give you an example: a month ago, I’m doing a standup show in Dallas and my religious stuff went over huge. Absolute gangbusters. But the review of the show under a headline that says something like ‘Dallas Loves Maher,’ claims the religious material bombed. This simply wasn’t true. We’re talking 10 to 15 minutes of huge belly laughs and applause. I know the difference between killing and bombing, trust me. But I obviously offended this reviewer personally. Now take that response and extrapolate it to the people involved in the Emmy show who judge Real Time vs. the other contenders. The other thing is that different sets of people nominate you vs. vote for the winner. The nomination is open to the entire Academy, which consists of thousands and thousands of your peers. A much smaller microcosm decides the trophy itself, like 10 people comparatively. It isn’t exactly a broad consensus.

DEADLINE: But at least you haven’t been snubbed, either.
MAHER: Hardly. I’ve been nominated for my shows every year they’ve been eligible since 1995. That’s like 15 straight times Real Time and, before that, Politically Incorrect beat out dozens and dozens of other shows for that recognition. So that in itself is an annual victory.

DEADLINE: But Jon Stewart has won 8 times in a row….
MAHER: Listen, I’m not complaining about it. This does not keep me up nights. I don’t sense a conspiracy afoot. It comes down to people voting their taste, and I’m not the taste preference of a majority. Maybe that’s a good thing.

DEADLINE: Has losing all 26 of your Emmy nominations impacted you?
MAHER: I have to say the impact has been essentially zero. I still attend the ceremony muchof the time, though not every year. But honestly, I’ve done all right without it. I’m happy with the people who follow what we do at HBO and tell me how much they enjoy it. That means much more to me than an Emmy. I’d never trade what people say to me on the street for one.

DEADLINE: At this point, do you think you’ll ever win?
MAHER: Only if there’s maybe a clerical error somewhere down the line. If I did win, I’m sure it would spur a huge investigation.

DEADLINE: So what TV do you watch, and who gets your attention on the tube?
MAHER: I don’t know Charlie Sheen well, but I spent a little time with him in 2009 and that guy is completely different than the one I’ve seen now. The fact is I’m a Libertarian who believes you should be able to do any drug you want. But don’t get all obnoxious and brag about it. That bothers me, the rubbing your fame and money in people’s faces — especially Charlie who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. I put Donald Trump in that same league of rubbing people’s noses in it. Trump and Charlie spend far too much time talking about how fucking fabulous they are. I’m thinking, ‘Dude, if you were a rock star, you’d have cuter girls and wouldn’t have to pay for them.’ My TV taste runs more to The Office and 30 Rock. I love both of those shows. Tina Fey is a rather amazing personality, in many ways unprecedented. Also, it’s part of my job to watch Fox News. They’re very good at confirming what the ill-informed believe.

  1. I like Bill. I love his show but when he’s out in public or even on Letterman he’s an insecure douche bag. I wish this wasn’t the case but it’s true. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s his height? He’s talented. It’s a shame.

    1. Maher is another left wing whackjob like Olbermann. I’m sure the leftist Hollywood dregs will give him his false awards sooner or later, kinda like an Affirmative Action thing.

      1. Left wing whackjob?
        He’s a left leaning libertarian.
        Your problem is, you only consider right leaning libertarians to be legitimate.
        It bothers you that a liberal would dare have libertarian views.

      2. typical, “He hasn’t won but I’m sure liberal Hollywood will give him some p.o.s. award” Which is it? Either he loses everyear or Hollywood has a liberal bias their pushing on the rest of the country! Choose one!!

      3. Bill Maher is on a level that you & your cousins, mate, etc., can’t even pretend to understand. When I worked behind a bar, we referred to people like you ‘hair parters’… ‘Cause most of what is said, goes right over your head!… Don’t get me wrong, we appreciate the time that folks as yourself (as well as the Palins of the world), save normal people… (as well as not having to put up with your breath)… So I always try to compliment people when they simply fly their ‘ignorance flag’. Makes things so much easier… That being said, you have the gratitude of all with an IQ…

        Bill Maher has much more than an a tacky statue made in China… He has always had, & will always have, a following of loyal fans… He’s not just a comedian, he’s also intelligent & has common sense… He is not afraid to speak his mind, regardless of anyone or any party… He speaks the truth… So do yourself a favor, & stop bragging about your stupidity. It truly is unsightly…

        1. I fully agree with you. Bill Maher…. There’s just no one else that comes close. Lol. You people only hate him cause he says exactly what you’re afraid to say. THE TRUTH. Get some fucking ballz people….

    2. dominic Lane , I wholeheartedly agree with you about Bill Maher’s douche bag demeanor . Maher annoys me, and his dire need to always be vicious and extremely disrespectful to certain individuals – is not funny but very cruel. This explains why his ” Napoleon Complex ” is always working overtime. I have to give Bill credit, he is smart, well-read , and well-informed, but I just don’t agree with his tactics.

    3. Bill is in amazing physical shape. Have you noticed his posture? Don’t put him down on his height, he looks taller than average to me. I don’t see how a person in that good of shape can be insecure, I think it is you. Also, what does height have to do with it?

    1. How can anyone fear someone who is an irrelevant pompous oaf? Everyone knows Maher is biased against the Republicans and the GOP is glad he is out there. He is the perfect example of how unhinged the left can become. Keep talking Bill Maher!!!

      1. The GOP fears Bill Maher? If that’s the greatest of our fears we’re in good shape.

        Maher states “…it’s part of my job to watch Fox News. They’re very good at confirming what the ill-informed believe.” That rhetoric is hackneyed, and frankly, another in a long line of cheap shots from the elitist host. The most humorous aspect of this guy’s pomposity is watching him being corrected by his own panelists. Listening to Bill Maher speak is frequently an exercise in sorting through the bullshit and the lies. Truth is, he and his brethren the left can’t resist taking swipes at Fox News because of their overwhelming success and influence. However, they choose to ignore the outlandish and false reporting actually documented over the years from ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN and MSNBC. Where are the verbal assaults for the flat-out deceptive reporting committed by the likes of Dan Rather, Bill Moyers, Keith Olbermann, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, Martin Bashir, Anderson Cooper, Rick Sanchez, Christiane Amanpour and Chris Matthews…to name a few?

        He’s just a hypocritical liberal a-hem, “Progressive.”

        1. Have you ever listened from outside America? If you did you would know how far right FOX news is. No other news channel in other modern countries comes anywhere close to FOX.

      2. I personally think Bill Maher is pretty fair across the board…if you are stupid, or do something stupid, then you are fair game. Ask Anthony Weiner (a panel regular). He did something stupid and Bill nailed him for it…very well I might add!

  2. It’s not exactly that he’s outspoken, but that he’s almost militant in his outspokenness that counts against him.
    His religious stuff actually is hilarious, but they’re put forth in his own style, and that understandably offends a lot of the people who even consider themselves slightly religious.
    Even though he said it lightheartedly, he was right, winning an Emmy would mess with his street-cred. His current audience loves him, that’s good enough.
    Take Daniel Tosh (yeah yeah we can’t compare the two…etc). His stuff can often seem offensive too, but people don’t really get offended because they don’t feel threatened by what he says. It’s taken in humor.
    When Bill Maher speaks, he’s very forthright, and the community on the receiving side of it seem to feel attacked.

    While I personally prefer the Jon Stewart stuff, if I was any more outspoken I’d be on Team Maher.

  3. I love Bill.. A big fan… His rant on Rick Perry on Friday was hilarious, could barely breath. I also like Jon Stewart so i’m not that upset about the Emmy thing although i would love to see him win one.

  4. I watch Bill’s Real Time every time it’s on. In fact it’s my favorite show on television.

    I think he’s in a place with the Emmys where there will always be enough supporters to get him nominated, but at the same time there are enough people who hate him to prevent him from ever winning.

    It’s like he’s in limbo or something.

  5. The death of any good comic is taking themselves too seriously. Maher is so far up his own ass he’s in danger of disappearing.

    1. And people have been saying that about BM since Politically Incorrect was on. Saying that after it was shut down… He’s still around, people.

  6. I love this man – in an ideological, not stalkerish way. If there were some way he could join Current TV’s lineup and maybe precede or follow Countdown with Keith Olbermann, that pairing powerhouse would greatly increase Current’s visibility. Olbermann’s being granted free reign. I have to think Maher would be given a similarly unfettered format.

    1. Maher is the smartest man on television? I wouldn’t go that far.

      I’m ideologically aligned with Maher the majority of the time, I always watch his show, and I think he’s a bright guy, but he isn’t quite as bright as he thinks he is… I mean, I don’t think he’s as brainy as Colbert or Stewart, to name two TV examples of people with greater brainpower.

  7. Maher hasn’t won because Hollywood isn’t really liberal. They are lying hypocritical cowards which means they don’t believe in anything and dislike anyone who does.

    John Stewart is silly and never really takes a position. He just ridicules without consequence.

    Maher is a real satirist in the spirit of Mark Twain who really did make a difference.

    Maher detests Hollywood’s two-faced hypocrisy, millionaires who yell liberalism and curse conservatives while living off the fruits of racism, sexism and homophobia. Maher continuously calls them out and so they will never reward him.

    But he is my hero if that counts for anything.

    1. Hahahahahahahahah. Hollywood isn’t liberal? That’s the problem with Liberals. They see through rose colored glasses.

      1. The problem with conservatives is that they think they are moderates and anything to the left of them are radicals. It is hell to be a moderate in today’s world. If one doesn’t pick up the pitchfork and torches in support of the typical rants and curses, one is a communist, facist, or socialist. (Never mind that they use those terms inter-changably, as if they meant the same.)

  8. Big fan of Bill, what he says about Charlie Sheen is hilariously true. Don’t think he’s as funny as Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert’s cleverness, but he does well enough.

    1. I am very libertarian (and quite a leftist and yeah proud of it..i also like Ralf Nader..haha) and sometimes i appreciate what Bill Maher can say but i disagree totally with him about Charlie Sheen.
      Sheen is maybe the most honest hollywood star nowadays, maybe he brags a bit about his lifestyle but he owns all of it and never plays the “woe is me” card when he receives all the media backlash (can’t really say the same about Maher..who can be pretty hypocritical when it is good for him to play the Hollywood game).
      So yeah sometimes it seems Maher is a bitter and just mean (without being funny) character whereas Charlie Sheen while having certainly deep personal issues stays more authentic, doesn’t make excuses, doesn’t try to dictate how others should behave.

      1. I’m trying to figure out when Charlie Sheen became honest; he certainly isn’t “winning” when it comes to that. “Tiger blood”? Give me a break.

        Maher is honest about everything he says, and since you talk about his playing the Hollywood game…OK. He may play it, but he plays it honestly and for what it is; that doesn’t make him a bad guy or anything like that. He just plays the game better than most others, that’s all.

  9. As someone else pointed out, Maher takes himself way too seriously. The only people who think he’s funny are other pseudo intellectuals who also take themselves way too seriously.

    Also he’s very hateful and mean spirited. The hate he spews towards women is frightening.

  10. Afraid of Maher? You must have be drunk.

    Maher is only noticeable because HBO has no standards. Remember, ABC dumped this goon because of his ridiculous meanderings and public opinion. HBO is not answerable to anyone and one can only guess how much money they have lost keeping Maher on. If HBO had any courage at all they might try a Dennis Miller talk show, but it would trounce Maher and they could never let that happen.

    Ann Coulter with a HBO show? The ratings would go through the roof.

    1. Seriously, guy? What year were you born? Dennis Miller did have a talk show on HBO. It was a huge hit. It was on for years. It won a ton of awards. He wouldn’t be anywhere near as famous as he is today if it weren’t for that show. How do you not know any of this? Are you new to this country?

    2. Coulter’s 15 minutes are finally over. Even her idolater Chris Matthews won’t have her on anymore. With Palin and Bachmann on hand to spew the crazy, she’s no longer needed.

    3. Ann Coulter has an HBO, it’s called TRUE BLOOD… she’s the vampire queen, didn’t you know!?

      HBO has smart business model, they’d yank him if he lost money; and seriously how much do you think he show costs them to produce? Even if they did lose money, they might need the write-off for such big shows like Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and The Pacific.

      Maher is a satirist of the true cloth. You can’t put any stock into winning or losing an Emmy Award or any award — it’s not an accurate barometer of one’s commercial success or even one’s art meets commerce success. It’s a fettered popularity contest where a few people make the decisions, and how the clout to dictate that the award actually has value.

    4. Ann Coulter? The woman is a nasty bitch with constant pms! Don’t come after me for being sexist as I am also a woman.

      Bill Maher is intelligent, funny, honest and when he is wrong he handles it well.

      Charlie Sheen is an egotistical ass and we have had enough of him! Honest, so what, he still isn’t giving a thought to anyone but himself and “little charlie”! The man has children and apparently he doesn’t give a shit about them!

      I like Ollberman, Stewart and Colbert but Bill Maher rules!

  11. The Bill Maher Show on HBO is very predictable. Invite one Republican and let that person be the punching bag. Maher is one arrogant pompous arse that thinks he is oh so clever. 3 1/2 years of George Bush is fcking dumb jokes. Defending President Clinton’s BJ and Anthony Weiner ‘s texting. Defending the Unions like they created the Middle Class. Oh yes Bill,taxing the Rich will restore our in the toilet economy.Until housing prices hit bottom, nothing will change in unemployment. How is it Barney Frank and Chris Dodd never receive any criticism for their roles in the Fannie Mae debaucle. Bill Maher is a populist jack off who will keep his Holier than thou show for years to come, because there is a huge segment of viewers just like him. Smug and self righteous jerks you can have Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and David Letterman.

    1. I am going to weigh in on this one: he has the conservatives like Darrell Issa on and despite whatever they were saying to Bill in the green room before the show, or socially, the second the cameras are rolling they turn into pod people who can’t stray from orthodoxy. If one of them does then he invites them back (Ross Douthat from this last week, he’s a turdling but not a straw man…the Gretchen lady was pretty lame though, a blonde conservative for a change!).

      The only thing you can do to really piss Maher off is defy common sense. At the moment the GOP is in a parallel universe where common sense is subversive and radical. The only saving grace is that the imbeciles voting GOP on here are only hurting America with their votes, it’s such a small percentage of people doing the actual damage we don’t have to worry about what we’d do if we actually ran into one of the real problems.

  12. Last year George Will made Maher look like the dimwit he is on “This Week”, the left keeps telling Maher he’s brilliant. Maher and Stewart arn’t the great minds the left keeps telling us they are, they just have great writers……alot of writers.

  13. Perhaps his jokes weren’t going over in Dallas as well as he thought. it was the laughter in his head b/c HE thinks he is so hilarious. No one thinks Maher is as wonderful as does Maher himself.

    He often has some salient points; however his complete smugness and inability to hear anything other than his own voice and opinion makes me want to punch him.

  14. Bill Maher is the reason I do not subscribe to HBO. He is an obnoxious know nothing big mouth….and those are his best qualities.

    1. Oh, who are you kidding? First, you’re missing out on a lot of great television. Second, HBO’s entire philosophy doesn’t revolve around what Maher thinks or says. I don’t watch Fox News because of their entire philosophy, not because of an individual show.

    2. You are wise to avoid subscribing to an entire network because you dislike a tiny portion of its programming.

    3. What does it say about you that you don’t subscribe to HBO because of one show?


      1) you don’t like ANY HBO shows
      2) you can’t afford HBO
      3) you don’t understand that if the one show you do not like on HBO comes on, you can change to a different channel or even read a book for an hour

  15. Bill Maher is an angry, narcissist jackass. He’s not funny. He’s not talented and he probably got his ass kicked every day on the way home from school which would explain his Karl Malden nose spread all over his that face. And let’s face it, It is a face that would be much better suited for radio. He reads jokes other people write for him. He wouldn’t last five minutes in any other medium than HBO. He’s a giant penis.

  16. I always get a sense of calm and comfort watching “Real Time,” knowing that at least this entire country isn’t filled with out-of-touch religious psycho rednecks.

  17. How is 26 noms a “losing streak”? That’s like saying getting 2nd, 3rd, or 4th place in a world class marathon is losing.. I hope someday my work in the industry will be recognized by the Academy 26 times.

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