Awards crisis averted.
The late-night community has breathed a sigh of relief after the Television Academy capitulated and decided against merging the late-night talk category with sketch for this year’s Emmys.
Deadline has spoken to a few late-night sources this morning and there’s a general sense of jubilation, meaning that there will likely be five late-night nominees and these shows won’t have to compete with the likes of SNL and A Black Lady Sketch Show for a spot.
The networks were uncharacteristically united on the issue and there was a plan to send a letter to the Academy to petition for changes. It’s not clear whether a letter was actually sent – it seems that the Academy made the changes following press coverage, including Deadline missives. The potential boycott from some quarters, it seems, is off and we can expect a full season of awards campaigning.
It’s still Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s to lose, but it will be interesting to see whether any new shows, such as Showtime’s Desus & Mero or Peacock’s The Amber Ruffin Show, those bubbling up such as NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers or those previously nominated such as CBS’ The Late Late Show with James Corden, can make it into the group of five alongside The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Rising Star: Late Night with Seth Meyers’ Jeff Wright
Deadline is shining a spotlight on some of the most exciting writers to rise up on the late-night beat. Who are the scribes that will go on to run shows, host, perform and create the the hottest comedies on TV and film?
This week’s focus is on Late Night with Seth Meyers’ Jeff Wright.
Jeff Wright has swapped the sunshine of Orlando, Florida for a cold, snowy New York after scoring a job writing and performing on Seth Meyers’ NBC series.
He got the job last August and was initially writing and creating sketches for the remote show before it went back into the studio, where he’s going in around once a week. “I think I’m building up nose callouses,” he jokes of the Covid testing process.
Wright got his break after Late Night showrunner Mike Shoemaker spotted his social media videos, where he went viral poking fun at pop culture brands, the fitness industry and social media itself, including a clip on Quibi’s shutdown.
In the videos, Wright generally plays a number of different characters himself, a format that he has brought to the NBC show, including a sketch about government (above).
“It’s a format that I’ve doing ever since my social media days when I would play all of the characters and the timing of it is something I like. They let me keep the same format and up the level of production value. A lot more goes into it [now] than doing it in front of your microwave,” he said.
He added that the pace and regularity of feeding the social media beast has been helpful for late night. “I realized the true talent isn’t in one great video but creating multiple videos and [seeing] how many you can create,” he said. “It’s a different approach [on Late Night] but the repetition of making videos so frequently, the fact that I can come up with an idea and present it to Seth and everyone in the writer’s room is so cool. I was in the gym before and now I’m in the game.”
Wright started out in stand up, highlighting that the sometime cruel nature of a crowd can be a real driver. “Stand up is so immediate, you know right away if something is good or bad and the bad moments are what drives me because the whole set could have been perfect, but that one joke… I don’t enjoy rollercoasters but I imagine that feeling that people who do after they ride, that’s what I feel when I do stand up.”
Wright said that there may be even more opportunities to be silly and explore new areas of comedy after the 45th President of the United States left office.
“I feel like the mood has lifted, not just for the show but for a lot of people out there. Where we’re at now, it gives us a chance to explore the things that we used to explore about what’s funny in our society. I feel for a long time we’ve been focused on what someone said and finding the funny in that and now we can focus on everything else and not just what was said. We’re turning a page in comedy, we can be more light-hearted on the show,” he added.
He applauds Meyers’ approach, echoing comments from Late Night writer Karen Chee, saying that the former SNL star allows the team to do its best work. “I like to see it in basketball, he throws up alley oops and let’s you go dunk it. It’s rare to meet people like that.”
Wright said that he has ambitions to act as well as write his own features and series in the future, inspired by the likes of Eddie Murphy, Kevin Hart, Ryan Reynolds and Will Smith.
Years down the line, I’ll probably focus more on acting than just stand up itself. “Writing on this show has given the chance to explore,” he added.
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