Late-night’s old guard – namely, David Letterman and Jay Leno – were left out in the cold when the Emmy nominations were announced Thursday morning.
The two highest-rated, but aging stars of late-night television had one Emmy nomination apiece in relatively minor categories, while the real competition in late-night – at least where the Emmys are concerned – is between the younger-skewing late-night personalities: Jon Stewart, 48, Conan O’Brien, 48, Stephen Colbert, 47, and Jimmy Fallon, 36.
The younger shows are all in the running for Emmys in late-night’s most important categories – Best Show (officially, the category is Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series) and Best Writing. Stewart and Colbert, of course, host “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” respectively, on Comedy Central.
“The Daily Show,” in particular, is perhaps the most honored show in the category – with Emmy wins at nine of the last 10 Emmy Awards. “Conan” is nominated in both of the important late-night categories for his very first season on TBS. And Fallon is nominated in both categories as host of the show that made Conan famous, NBC’s “Late Night.” Fallon’s nominations in the two most important late-night categories represented a first for him and his show.
Leno and Letterman? The only nomination for Leno, 61, is in a “short-format” category for “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the series he produces for NBC.com. As for Letterman, now 64, his “Late Show” on CBS got a lone nomination in a directing category.
And we were a little surprised that “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC only had two nominations, although one of them was for a bit that might have been the funniest single piece of video seen anywhere in late-night TV last year – “The President’s Speech,” in which Mike Tyson played a speech therapist for President George W. Bush in a spoof of “The King’s Speech.”
The Letterman show hasn’t won an Emmy since 2005. But even more significantly, Dave’s “Late Show” was a perennial nominee in the writing category from the year it launched in 1993 through 2009. Sadly, it’s not on the cutting edge of late-night writing anymore, at least in the opinion of the TV Academy members who vote on the Emmys. Leno’s “Tonight Show” too was once a perennial nominee – in the Best Show category – but those nominations dried up years ago.
The subject of the Emmys came up the other night on “Late Show” when Regis Philbin came on as Dave’s guest co-host for the night and Dave congratulated Reege for his recent win at the Daytime Emmys.
“What about you?” Philbin asked Letterman. “Have you won an Emmy Award as a late-night TV host?”
“Not for a long, long time,” Dave said. “In the old days, we used to win ’em all the time. We don’t win ’em anymore!”
“Cooled off, eh?” Regis asked.
To which Dave replied sarcastically: “Yeah, kinda cooled off!”