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James Hibberd

TV Academy Wanted a Veteran Comic to Host Emmys

August 21, 2007 5:02 PM

While Fox successfully landed its own “American Idol” personality Ryan Seacrest to host the Primetime Emmy Awards, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences had other ideas.

The academy’s wish list included veteran comics such as Billy Crystal, Ray Romano and Jerry Seinfeld, a source close to the process says.

Fox’s president of alternative entertainment Mike Darnell, asserting his newly increased muscle over the unscripted division, wanted the “Idol” host. Some of the ensuing conversations with ATAS concerned Seacrest’s lack of comedic experience, but Darnell maintained that an Emmy host needs to be a reliable emcee, not a comedian. After all, non-comics Dick Clark, Bryant Gumbel, Frank Sinatra and Merv Griffin have hosted the Emmys. (Fox and ATAS had no comment.)

So to recap: First the academy vetoed Fox’s plan to have a green/blue/teal/aquamarine carpet in favor of traditional red, then it wanted a Billy Crystal-style host. Very 2004. Next thing you know, they’ll be nominating “Boston Legal” for best drama series (oh, wait…).

Seacrest’s other freshly announced Fox gig—hosting the entertainment portion of the Super Bowl—came so close to the Emmy announcement that they seem connected. But all sides insist the deals were separate, and there was no quid pro quo.

Some have seemed surprised that Seacrest landed both jobs, just as they were back when he landed the E! red-carpet gig. But Seacrest has managed to build a hosting empire by remaining a baggage-free professional and dominating a high-wire-act industry niche. He’s not an edgy choice, sure, but that’s partly what networks like about him. He’s all business, relatively free of the creative and personal roller coasters that attend other entertainers. A network hires Seacrest and knows exactly what it’s getting. And Fox has the key bonus benefit of Seacrest effectively promoting “Idol” on two of the biggest television events of the year.


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Comments (1)

Ah, of course it was the machinations of Mike Darnell that made this happened. Ever since Love Cruise brought Toni Ferrari to the American consciousness Darnell has been on a mission to destroy everything we love about television.

"America's Most Groomed Man" might not have any baggage, but he's also a throwback to a rather bland moment in our history, don't you think?

Hey, it could have been worse. Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes could have demanded that Bill O'Reilly host the thing.

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