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The Gold Standard: Miniseries, variety and reality

When in doubt, go for Betty White. And 'The Real Housewives of New Jersey.' You know you want to.

June 21, 2012|By Glenn Whipp, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Betty White could be the one to knock off Jeff Probst in the race for host of a reality or reality competition program.
Betty White could be the one to knock off Jeff Probst in the race for host of… (Jordin Althaus / NBC )

Is "The Amazing Race"really that amazing? Is Jon Stewart that much better than Stephen Colbert? Are Jeff Probst's pre-torch-snuffing psychological interrogations any more difficult than the way witty Tom Bergeron keeps"Dancing With the Stars" moving?

Or, more to the point: Why the monotony in these categories, Emmy voters? When nominees are hanging out at the bar as their categories are being presented, you're doing something wrong. At least make them think about writing an acceptance speech.


1. "Game Change" (HBO)

2."American Horror Story"(FX)

3. "Hatfields and McCoys" (History)

4. "Sherlock"(BBC America)

5. "Hemingway & Gellhorn" (HBO)

6."The Hour"(BBC America)

Bubbling under: "Great Expectations" (PBS), "Appropriate Adult" (Sundance), "Page Eight" (PBS),"Luther" (BBC America), "Birdsong" (PBS),"Titanic" (ABC), "Bag of Bones" (A&E), "Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost" (CBS), "Magic Beyond Words: TheJ.K. Rowling Story" (Lifetime), "Neverland" (SyFy), "The Song of Lunch" (PBS)

Analysis: HBO won the made-for-television movie Emmy seven years running. Then the category merged with miniseries last year, and"Downton Abbey" did a number on"Mildred Pierce" and ended the streak. "Game Change" currently rates as the presumptive front-runner, but given the popularity and quality of History's "Hatfields," there's a chance for an upset here in September.


1. "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (Comedy Central)

2."The Colbert Report"(Comedy Central)

3."Saturday Night Live"(NBC)

4. "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (NBC)

5."Jimmy Kimmel Live"(ABC)

6. "Late Show With David Letterman" (CBS)

Bubbling under: "Conan" (TBS), "Real Time With Bill Maher" (HBO), "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" (CBS),"Chelsea Lately" (E!), "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (NBC)

Analysis: Maher's seven-year nom run may come to an end (he'll always have his Mets) as voters make room for Kimmel, whose show continues to get better with each passing year. Letterman, absent the last two go-rounds, could leapfrog over "Conan" now that those Team Coco T-shirts have been tucked away in the back of the drawer. Meanwhile, "The Daily Show" looks to take its 10th straight Emmy in a field sporting plenty of worthy alternatives. One possibility: "SNL" just wrapped its strongest season in ages. Might voters find themselves sentimental in the wake of Kristen Wiig's departure and give the show its first win since 1976?


"The Amazing Race" (ABC)

"Top Chef"(Bravo)

"The Voice"(NBC)

"American Idol"(Fox)

"So You Think You Can Dance"(Fox)

"Project Runway"(Lifetime)

Bubbling under: "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC), "The X Factor" (Fox), "Survivor" (CBS), "The Glee Project" (Oxygen)

Analysis: Zzzzzzzzzz. Huh? Oh, sorry. Every year, the same shows are nominated. Every year (save for one), "The Amazing Race" wins. Nothing to see here. Move along.


"Betty White's Off Their Rockers" (NBC)

"Pawn Stars" (History)

"Undercover Boss"(CBS)

"Deadliest Catch" (Discovery)

"MythBusters" (Discovery)

"Swamp People" (History)

Bubbling under: "Intervention" (A&E), "Dirty Jobs" (Discovery), "Hoarders" (A&E), "The Pitch" (AMC), "Antiques Roadshow" (PBS),"Storage Wars" (A&E), "Coming Home" (Lifetime), "All-American Muslim" (TLC)

Analysis: If we were basing this call from our Twitter feed, the Emmy would go to "Dance Moms." (Jonah Hill loves it. So does pal Judd Apatow … or, at least, he watches with his daughter. If we see any tweets from Tommy Lee Jones on the show, we're closing our account.) Back in the real world, there isn't a series here that has really captured the popular imagination — or at least one that voters aren't embarrassed to honor. (If shame didn't come into play, "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" would win every time.) "Deadliest Catch" won last year in the wake of the death of Capt. Phil Harris. This year? Who knows? But when in doubt, go with Betty White. Seven Emmys, four different categories. The lady takes no prisoners.


Jeff Probst, "Survivor" (CBS)

Phil Keoghan, "The Amazing Race" (ABC)

Ryan Seacrest, "American Idol" (Fox)

Tom Bergeron, "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC)

Cat Deeley, "So You Think You Can Dance" (Fox)

Bubbling under: Betty White, "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" (NBC); Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, "MythBusters" (Discovery); Heidi Klum, "Project Runway" (Lifetime); RuPaul Charles, "RuPaul's Drag Race" (Logo); Carson Daly, "The Voice" (NBC); Mike Rowe, "Dirty Jobs" (Discovery); Nick Cannon, "America's Got Talent" (NBC); Padma Lakshmi, "Top Chef" (Bravo)

Analysis: The tribe has spoken: Probst has never lost in the four years the category has existed. Go punk him, Betty White. You know you want to.

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