Conan has crashed the late-night Emmy party after scoring a nomination in the Outstanding Variety Talk Series category following his exit from the medium after 28 years.
The long-running TBS show ended its ten season run last month and the TV Academy’s goodbye gift is Conan O’Brien’s first nomination in the main category – then known as Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series since 2011.
The move, however, means that sister TBS show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee misses out and it also means that all of the five nominees were male hosted shows.
The full list of noms in the late-night category are 2020’s winner Last Week Tonight, Conan, The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
Losing out were The Late Late Show with James Corden, which had been nominated four years in a row before last year’s rule changes, Late Night with Seth Meyers, which garnered considerable buzz during the pandemic, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, which hasn’t been nominated since 2016 and hotshot newcomers Desus & Mero.
The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Talk Series category remains down to five nominees thanks to rule changes governing categories with between 20 and 80 submissions.
In fact, this year, it was a pretty close call that there would be five nominees after the category only received 20 submissions, down four from last year. Had there been one fewer, it would have only had four nominees.
Late-night hosts and producers breathed a sigh of relief earlier this year when The Television Academy capitulated to the cries of the late-night lobby and reversed its decision to merge the variety sketch and talk categories.
There was much pressure from broadcast networks including ABC, CBS and NBC as well as cable nets including Comedy Central, HBO and Showtime over the initial decision. In February, the Academy reversed course, after Deadline revealed that some showrunners were even considering a boycott of the event.
Those changes would have meant that sketch shows such as Saturday Night Live and A Black Lady Sketch Show would have competed in the same category and would have likely reduced the number of late-night talk entries even further.