Martin Hilton, executive producer of The Bachelor, got right to the point today at Deadline’s The Contenders Emmy event. “This show has never won an Emmy. For anything!,” he told the audience dominated by likely voters. “And despite that, this show is a cornerstone of American pop culture.”

Hilton shared the panel stage with Little Big Shots executive producer Robin Ashbrook, The Voice executive producer Audrey Morrissey and Mike Darnell, the executive who helped launch American Idol at Fox and now oversees The Voice, Little Big Shots and The Bachelor as President of Unscripted and Alternative Television at Warner Bros. Television.

At the mention of Bachelor‘s Emmylessness, Darnell shouted, “For wardrobe, nothing!” He noted that The Bachelor has been a major hit since 2002, garnering top ratings and inspiring spin-offs. “Martin’s right,” he said. “This isn’t just luck. I would implore you to look at it. You don’t last this long without being a really well-produced show.”

Hilton, president and chief operating officer of Next Entertainment, said that The Bachelor suffers at Emmy time from its “guilty pleasure” status. To laughter, he urged Emmy voters to get over the bias and “do what really needs to be done here.”

Ashbrook said the key to the appeal of Little Big Shots is the fact that it’s not a competition.  He credits Darnell with recognizing this. “(I said) ‘so what do they win?’  (Darnell said) ‘Nothin,’ ” Ashbrook recalled. “Mike was dead right. I was dead wrong.” Parents like the idea that it’s all in fun, not about showbiz contracts for kids, he added. He said the “simple approach” has led to the concept being considered for sale around the world.
Meanwhile, Morrissey credited the long success of The Voice to the same sort of serendipity in selecting their judges. “There was no screen test, we just plopped them in those chairs,” she said. “Everyone was going to Idol, and it was a race to get o the air before The X-Factor. She says the chemistry was there from the first day.

Darnell took a moment to confess how sentimental he got during last week’s American Idol series finale after 15 seasons. “There was such a bombardment of former Idols, so many that I thought I knew everybody but I forgot some kids,” he said. “There was so much impact from that show. I guess I appreciated that Fox gave it a sendoff, rather than just pulling it off the air.”