Emmys offer a bigger dose of reality

Fri Sep 12, 2008 8:13am EDT
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By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The art of the samba, the perils of the sea, the secrets of souffles and the oeuvre of actors. All are on display next to equally exotic occupations and subjects in the reality program, reality-competition program and nonfiction series categories for the 60th annual Emmy Awards.

The latter two categories will be announced out on Saturday during the E!-televised Creative Arts portion; the winner of the reality program will be unveiled on September 21 during the main Primetime Emmys ceremony.

For the first time, Emmy will also honor the best reality host. Each nominee will get a chance to strut on the stage during the ABC telecast -- because they'll be hosting the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

A more diverse set of competitors would be hard to find, but what they all have in common is a need to amp up the drama of their subjects, while still keeping it "real" enough for reality TV.


The reality program category may feel familiar; if so, that's because three of the honorees from 2007 are back -- ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," Bravo's "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," and PBS' "Antiques Roadshow." "Makeover" deserves props for doing good work in the midst of a declining housing market (though even its homes have not been free of foreclosure) and is the strongest of the vets, with four prior nominations and two wins in the category. "D-List" broke "Makeover's" two-year winning streak in 2007, but Griffin didn't exactly endear herself in her acceptance speech, when she said, "Suck it, Jesus." "Roadshow" has had five additional nominations in three categories over the years -- it was once considered in the nonfiction program (alternative) and then the nonfiction series (informational) categories -- but zero wins.

That makes the newcomers -- A&E's "Intervention" and Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" -- wild cards. If the television academy is looking to shake up the category a bit, these gritty shows may be the ones to do it.

Perhaps surprisingly, "Makeover" co-executive producer Denise Cramsey is a fan of "Dirty Jobs." "I love that show, and I know how hard a traveling show like that is to pull off," she says, but sides with conventional wisdom that Griffin is the toughest competition.   Continued...

<p>The cast of the fourth season of "Top Chef" in an undated image courtesy of Bravo. REUTERS/Handout</p>