At this morning’s Emmy nomination announcement, Television Academy Chairman and CEO Frank Scherma and 2019 Emmy show producers Don Mischer and Ian Stewart told me no decision has been made about whether to have a host this year. In fact, Mischer tells Deadline they have not even made any offers.
This year’s Oscar show got lots of ink after the decision was made late in the game to go hostless following original choice Kevin Hart’s exit. There was much speculation about how this would affect the Oscar’s recent sagging ratings, but in fact the numbers increased by 12% — though still the second-worst overall showing for the venerable telecast — leading the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to consider doing away with the host again, maybe even for 2020. Will the Emmys follow suit? Mischer actually said it is the other way around because he already has produced a couple of Emmy shows in which he didn’t employ a host and they turned out just fine.
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“On the host front, let me just say this: This is like the starting line today,” he said. “We now have nine weeks to put this together. Our job is to make the best possible show out of this extraordinary material and remind the world and our viewers in a very interesting and unpredictable way about all that’s going on and all the positive aspects of television. Now we can do that with a host, and we can do it without a host. We’ve done it both ways. … We’re not feeling pressure about a host. We may have one, we may not have one, but it’s not critical to us. The first thing to do is to shape the program and figure out how best to get this extraordinary work across.”
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Stewart, whose company Done+Dusted produced last year’s Emmy show, agrees. He said the issue of a host is really something to deal with after you figure out what to do with the show. “Can we come at the show in a different way completely? And then if we did, would that need a host or not need a host? I think we are trying to explore every aspect of the show,” he said while acknowledging the media and public interest in the topic, especially following the Oscar situation. “It’s not that at all. We are not leading. We are not following. We are just trying to take a big step back and think what is best here and how could we incorporate that, and then ask the question, ‘Does that need a host?'”
Mischer notes that because of the Kevin Hart thing, the Oscar show was put in a bit of a defensive position. That is not the case for the Emmys, he said. “We clearly are not sure. We have made no offers and we may not make any offer that we want a host,” he said. “It may be much better to put this show together without a host since it has worked before and it allows us to be a little more unpredictable. So these are decisions yet to be made.” Asked if Fox, which is broadcasting the September 22 show, would insist on one of its own personalities should the decision be made to go for a host. Mischer said that Rob Wade, the Fox executive overseeing the Emmy broadcast, has been supportive all along and Fox only wants a show “that is good for television.”
One advantage to not having a host could be the producers might better be able to control some of the comedy and steer it away from political issues that have dogged so many awards shows — including last year’s Emmys, when NBC had its Saturday Night Live ‘Weekend Update’ anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che co-host. “That is true. It just happens,” Mischer said. “We are a country that seems to be more divided now. For those of us who produce entertainment, it’s unfortunate and a sad condition, but it is something we have to consider. In 2018 on the Oscars (when Jimmy Kimmel hosted for the second year in a row), when you look at the minute-by-minute ratings, they started to tank right at the top of the show. Hopefully this will pass by like a storm cloud and it will be back to normal soon.”
Meanwhile, Scherma doesn’t seem to be too concerned on the part of the Academy. “I think everything is a consideration. I think we are looking at all these wonderful nominees, and we are going to showcase them,” he said. “We are going to leave it to the producers and Fox and us to figure out what’s the best for this and figure out if it is a host or no host and what makes the show the most entertaining. Look, we’ve done the Creative Arts [Emmys] without a host for years. I think we will figure it out [soon]. And the closer it gets to picking it, I think we have more options of people wanting to do it, so everyone can’t figure out what’s wrong with that person.”
As they say in television, stay tuned.
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