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GOLD DERBY / TOM O'NEIL

Reality programs: There's certainly lots of competition

The category, which makes up almost half of all prime-time programming, is still under-represented at the Emmy's with only five awards available.

June 15, 2009|TOM O'NEIL

Considering that reality programs comprise nearly half of prime-time television, the genre is still under-represented at the Emmys with its five top categories, if you count the nonfiction races. (The Emmys have about 100 contests overall.) This year, academy officials considered adding a new one for judges of reality competition shows but ultimately dropped the plan for now. Were they afraid Simon Cowell might win?

REALITY / COMPETITION SERIES

Front-runners

"The Amazing Race," CBS

"American Idol," Fox

"Dancing With the Stars," ABC

"Project Runway," Bravo

"Survivor," CBS

"Top Chef," Bravo

Spotlight: "Amazing Race" has proved to be truly amazing, zooming past TV's top-rated "American Idol" to win this category all six years of its existence. Overall, "Idol" has lost 31 Emmys and won two, both in tech races.

Possible

"America's Next Top Model," the CW

"America's Got Talent," NBC

"The Bachelor," ABC

"Big Brother," CBS

"The Biggest Loser: Couples," NBC

"Celebrity Apprentice," NBC

"The Cougar," TV Land

"Deal or No Deal," NBC

"Hell's Kitchen," Fox

"So You Think You Can Dance," Fox

Spotlight: Leave it to that sneaky Joan Rivers to crash the red carpet again now that she is no longer hosting shows for E! and the TV Guide Channel. The winner of "Celebrity Apprentice" could arrive on the arm of Donald Trump in September if the show breaks into this contest.

REALITY PROGRAM

Front-runners

"Ace of Cakes," Food Network

"Antiques Roadshow," PBS

"Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew," VH1

"Dirty Jobs," Discovery

"The Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan," National Geographic

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," ABC

"Intervention," A&E

"Jon & Kate Plus 8," TLC

"Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List," Bravo

"Man vs. Wild," Discovery

"Penn & Teller: Bull****!" Showtime

Spotlight: When Kathy Griffin won two years ago, censors zapped her blasphemous acceptance speech. Last year, Griffin promised to behave if she won again, but then she dropped f-bombs on stage, adding, "I'm not going to tell anyone to suck it. I would make love to this thing if I could." What about this year? "I am your clay, television academy, so if you want me to drop trou and accept bottomless, so be it," she tells The Envelope. "I want a third Emmy in the way most people want the stock market to rebound or Angelina Jolie wants one more kid. I will trade my mother for a third Emmy. No offense to her. She's lovely. But I will do whatever it takes."

Possible

"Architecture School," Sundance

"Dog the Bounty Hunter," A&E

"Dr. 90210," E! TV

"High School Reunion," TV Land

"The Hills," MTV

"Keeping Up With the Kardashians," E! Entertainment

"Kitchen Nightmares," Fox

"Mythbusters," Discovery

"Real Housewives of New York," Bravo

"Wife Swap," ABC

Spotlight: Proof of Hollywood's vanity -- look at all of the contenders for best reality/competition program based in Tinseltown, including "Dr. 90210," "The Hills," "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" and many more. Hey, isn't Hollywood the world's most unreal city?

REALITY TV HOST

Front-runners

Tyra Banks, "America's Next Top Model"

Tom Bergeron, "Dancing With the Stars"

Cat Deeley, "So You Think You Can Dance"

Phil Keoghan, "The Amazing Race"

Heidi Klum, "Project Runway"

Howie Mandel, "Deal or No Deal"

Jeff Probst, "Survivor"

Ryan Seacrest, "American Idol"

Spotlight: Logically, when the Emmys created a category for hosts last year, the award should have gone to the emcee of the show that's never lost the race for outstanding reality/competition program -- "The Amazing Race" -- but he wasn't even nominated. However, Phil Keoghan hasn't been Emmy overlooked. Before hosts had their own category, they won along with producers when their shows claimed the best program prize. But now that hosts are on their own, why can't Keoghan break into the running for that race? Talk about amazing!

Possible

Wayne Brady, "Don't Forget the Lyrics"

Paige Davis, "Trading Spaces"

Padma Lakshmi, "Top Chef: New York"

Randy Jackson, "America's Best Dance Crew"

Cesar Millan, "Dog Whisperer"

Ty Pennington, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"

Mike Rowe, "Dirty Jobs"

Donald Trump, "Celebrity Apprentice"

Mark L. Walberg, "Antiques Roadshow"

Spotlight: Maybe Cesar Millan pays a price for pooh-poohing W.C. Fields' advice, "Never work with animals or children." He didn't get nominated when this category was created last year, even though "The Dog Whisperer" earned bids for outstanding reality program in 2006 and 2007. Is Cesar getting upstaged by the circus act around him? Does reality really bite?

NONFICTION SERIES

Front-runners

"American Masters," PBS

"Biography," A&E

"Deadliest Catch," Discovery

"Iconoclasts," Sundance

"Inside the Actors Studio," Bravo

"Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America," PBS

"30 Days," FX

"This American Life," Showtime

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