John Oliver has fired the first shot at his new Emmy rival Saturday Night Live – six months before his show Last Week Tonight will go head-to-head in a new awards category.
The British comedian, whose show returns for its tenth season on February 19, posted a hosting announcement to his social media channels that looks an awful lot like the ones that Saturday Night Live posts when they score a new host.
In the past, this wouldn’t have got any attention but given the fact that Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which won the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Talk Series for the last seven years, will now compete directly against SNL, which has won the Emmy for Variety Sketch Series for the past six years, it feels like shots fired.
Whether he’ll actually have a horse on the show is anyone’s guess, but don’t rule it out.
The HBO show and the NBC series will now compete in September for the Scripted Variety Series Emmy after the TV Academy, in December, replaced the existing categories – Variety Talk and Variety Sketch Series.
The move comes as the number of late-night talk shows and variety series continues to diminish.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which was axed by the new Warner Bros. Discovery regime, and The Late Late Show with James Corden, which is ending this spring and being replaced by a reboot of @midnight, were both shows that regularly scored Emmy nominations, while Desus and Mero seemed on the verge of being nominated before the pair broke up.
Similarly, SNL has only really competed with HBO’s The Black Lady Sketch Show in recent years thanks to a drought of variety shows.
It makes for an interesting battle between Oliver and SNL creator Lorne Michaels, who have both had long winning streaks, one of which will come to an end in September. Wind-up merchant Oliver will likely be enjoying this, but don’t expect Michaels to respond publicly.
It will also be interesting to see which late-night talk shows will be nominated and then triumph in September in the new Talk Series category. Expect the likes of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Daily Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers to compete with David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction and The Problem with Jon Stewart as those shows have also moved out of the hosted non-fiction category into Talk Series.
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