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EMMYS: Will “Arch Rival” Matt Damon Be Jimmy Kimmel's Ticket To Finally Winning That Statuette?

Poor Matt Damon. Damon’s tour de force one night “hosting” stint January 24th on Jimmy Kimmel Live was a real triumph, maybe the funniest and finest work by any guest on a variety (as talk shows are classified in the Emmys) series this season. Damon’s rep tells me they had been trying for a very long time to make this appearance possible and finally his schedule freed him up to do it. But as far as Emmys go, it doesn’t exist.

Of course the whole show was one big gag based on Kimmel’s long standing show biz mock hatred of Damon. He’s ended virtually every episode of his decade-old talker by saying that unfortunately the show ran out of time for Damon’s appearance. Of course Damon was never really booked and it was all an elaborate running joke but finally it paid off when Damon supposedly kidnapped Kimmel, tied him up and took over the host desk. With Kimmel, his mouth taped shut , hopelessly looking on from the background , Damon took over with a great monologue and a couch full of A-listers that included Nicole Kidman, Gary Oldman, Demi Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Amy Adams, Sarah Silverman (Kimmel’s ex), Andy Garcia, Robin Williams and others including BFF Ben Affleck. It was a knock-out show, perhaps the most original of any talker this year and, of all Kimmel shows this season, it is the DVD screener producers have sent separately to Emmy voters for consideration (Kimmel’s after-Oscars special was also sent as part of the ABC network box). Certainly it is deserving of that consideration  for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series, and for writing too. Should it be the magic formula to finally bring the Kimmel Show the Emmy in a category that has been dominated by The Daily Show for a solid decade, Kimmel himself and the show’s producing team would receive statuettes but unfortunately Damon would be left out in the cold. A few years ago the Academy eliminated the Variety, Music, Comedy Performer category  that was home for talk hosts and guests hosts on shows like Saturday Night Live among others.  As the Academy’s Senior VP  Awards, John Leverence explains it:

“In 2009 the Board of Governors voted to discontinue the VMC performer category, re-routing eligibility of the principle hosts/performers of VMC series and specials from an individual achievement, stand-alone category into program  eligibility, e.g., if Late Night With David Letterman won for VMC series, then Letterman, host, would be included in eligibility as host; or if a Tony Bennett special won for VMC Special, then Tony Bennett, host, would be included in eligibility as the host.”

Leverence also explains that because of this change the Board allowed guest hosts on scripted sketch comedy shows like SNL to enter in the guest comedy actor and actress categories (Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake and Betty White are recent winners), but that unfortunately guest hosts on talk shows are not eligible. “Yes, both Kimmel and SNL are Variety Series programs, but the Board drew an eligibility distinction between a guest host acting in a scripted format and a guest host standing in for, or in Matt Damon’s case usurping the role of, a principle talk show host, ” Leverence said.

That’s all fine except this was clearly a heavily scripted show and Damon was acting. It is a shame they can’t somehow find an exception to the rule, but Damon falls into the black hole of Emmy eligibility for this performance. PR reps for both Damon and the Kimmel show did inquire with the Academy about making him eligible, and had every hope that he would be, but were turned down. They chose not to appeal it. It was a ticklish situation for PMK , the agency that reps Kimmel’s series, since they also rep the Television Academy. Leverence said, “anyone can appeal  disqualification if they have a rule to argue their case, but in this instance, I don’t know what that rule would be”.  A PMK rep said the show understood and respected  the Academy’s “clarification” on this matter.

Of course that hasn’t stopped them from highlighting this show – and Damon’s mug – in every FYC ad the show has been taking out in the trades and on Deadline in the past week. Should Kimmel actually pull off a nomination and a victory, the first person he should thank, for real this time, is Damon whose special episode showed just how inventive The Jimmy Kimmel Show can be in a genre that doesn’t get wildly creative.

On the bright side for Oscar winner Damon, he is on the Emmy ballot as Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his far less-visible stint as himself on Showtime’s House Of Lies. And of course Damon is eligible as Outstanding Leading Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series for his role as Scott Thorson, Liberace’s young lover, in HBO’s Behind The Candelabra. He drew strong critical notices for the film and is likely to get nominated, but unfortunately he has to go head-to-head against co-star Michael Douglas with the much flashier role of Liberace himself. Douglas is heavily favored to win.

Oh well Matt, there’s always that Oscar to comfort you.

  1. If an SNL host is eligible for Emmy consideration, Damon should be too, in my opinion. His “guest hosting” was just one big sketch. Definitely the most original episode of any talker this year.

  2. First of all, do you think Matt Damon really cares about an Emmy? He was brilliant in both the kimmel show and as liberace’s lover, but he’s a movie star

  3. Od course, he would be nominated for an OSCAR for Behind the Candelabra if Hollywood studio heads had even the tiniest imaginations.

    1. This is ridiculous! First he’s denied an Oscar nom, then he’s denied a second Emmy nom! Hollywood sucks.

  4. This is one of those tricky, confusing things. If you let Damon submit as Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, then shouldn’t Stephen Colbert be eligible for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series? That’s as much a “performance” as Damon.

  5. A crying shame for the Emmys as well as Damon. Most spectacular episode in talk show history, both in creation and execution. They need to come up with an MVP award for Damon. He was great on House of Lies and his Entourage episode was also a riot.

  6. this is meant with all sincerity — Pete Hammond you are one hell of a writer.
    Fluid, entertaining, crisp and always informative. Just a joy to always read what you are
    covering yes we know each other but am not copping who I am so as not to come off as a kiss ass.
    just want to come off as an appreciative fan.

  7. That show is still on my DVR. It is a classic. Good luck, Jimmy. Make sure you run out of time during your acceptance speech with Matt standing next to you as he is ‘played off’ out of time with no chance for a comment…

  8. I think “Jimmy Kimmel Sucks” should be recognized as a Variety special then by their standards because that way Damon would get recognized.

    1. You are genius! This absolutely MUST happen! There’s got to be some way this could happen. Would this work?

  9. The amount of attention compared to the ratings paid to late night television has always fascinated…aren’t most people asleep since they have jobs when these shows are on?

  10. it was a bonehead move on the part of the Emmy Academy to eliminate the individual performance award — especially to create the inane reality show host category. if anything, reality show hosts should be nominated and win with the program, not the host of a variety series or special.

  11. I still cannot believe Jimmy Kimmel is still on the air. Who is watching this? I find him to be as humorous as a root canal. I just don’t get it. Oh well….

  12. That episode belongs in the Smithsonian. Truly the most inventive show of late night for decades. Maybe ever.

    1. Get a grip, Stan. “The Smithsonian?” “The most inventive show of late night for decades?!” What’re you on? Kimmel’s payroll or massive amounts of meds?

      1. When he was watching the Damon show, Carl Reiner, who goes back to the earliest days of late night, tweeted “this is the funniest hour of late night I have ever seen”. Of course, he’s only a showbiz legend, not a random Internet troll.

  13. If it needs to be a scripted show to qualify, and it was mostly scripted, then why couldn’t they just submit the script?

  14. As we saw with the Leno impersonation, Kimmel is only watchable on “a very special episode” nights. He has his moments, but his show overall is fourth-rate. Damon deserves the credit here, not the show.

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