Producers explain why their reality show hosts should win the first Emmy for best host

With the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences finally creating a category to recognize reality show hosts, the producers who work with the category’s first five nominees (who will collectively host the ceremony) have offered arguments as to why their host should win.

Survivor executive producer Mark Burnett argues for Jeff Probst, but also insists that the nominees illustrate that the category is kind of dumb. “Certainly, an unscripted show like ‘Survivor’ is not the same as a talent show, which is not the same as a gameshow. I have great respect for the Emmys, and while any gain for nonfiction programming is great, hopefully every year we’ll move a bit more in the right direction,” Burnett told Variety.

American Idol executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz agreed. “Eventually, I think we will see some distinction from field vs. stage shows the same way we have seen dramas vs. movies categories,” she said.

As to Jeff, Burnett said his host “is a huge reason why ‘Survivor’ has been such a success. He strikes this balance between providing information and taking an editorial view. He calls the contestants to task, but has such real warmth about him that everybody loves Jeff. He’s not only a great ambassador for our show, but he’s a great ambassador for our country.”

Dancing With the Stars executive producer Conrad Green said “Tom [Bergeron] knows how to make us laugh, but also knows when things need to be taken seriously. He’s spontaneous and sets the tone for the show. There have been some difficult moments on the air, with people dealing with family members dying and other members dying and other tragedies, then moments of great humor, and Tom can handle it all.”

Frot-Coutaz said Ryan Seacrest is “incredibly professional, and he’s very good on his feet. He can build the dramatic moment or react quickly with humor. He’s endearing and knows how to connect with the contestants. You can rely on him to bring the show in on time, and he can handle anything that comes up.”

Deal or No Deal’s producer David Goldberg told Variety that “Howie [Mandel] is the glue that holds this show together — you just can’t imagine anyone else hosting this show,” while Project Runway‘s executive producer Dan Cutforth said “Heidi [Klum] made it all relatable to the audience and brought them into a part of the fashion world. She’s not mean, but she speaks her mind and is open and honest, which comes across well in the show.”

Cutforth notes that each has strengths. “Jeff is a pioneer — no other show like (‘Survivor’) ever existed. Ryan has been at the forefront of the biggest show to hit primetime television. Howie took a gameshow and made it special. Heidi made viewers feel like insiders in the fashion world. And Tom made this ridiculous ballroom competition make sense. Everyone in this category has done something remarkable with their shows,” he said.

Cutforth also said that the Emmys are begrudgingly welcoming reality hosts: “I’ve always felt reality is the unmentionable bastard offspring no one wants to acknowledge, but has to be invited to family events anyway. If I was to be cynical, I’d say (the reality hosts) were brought in for the viewers because, frankly, people are more interested in seeing the hosts of their favorite reality shows than some balding, bespectacled producer thanking his parents.”

Reality hosts get an Emmy category [Variety]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.