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Can Emmy's biggest loser Bill Maher ever win?

July 20, 2009 |  1:56 pm

Bill Maher is already Emmy's biggest loser with 21 nominations and zero wins (Susan Lucci won on nod No. 19). Last week, he got a chance to add to that losing record with another producing nod for "Real Time With Bill Maher" (making its fifth consecutive bid for outstanding variety, music or comedy series).


More than likely, Maher will continue his staggering losing streak this year. "Real Time" is up against "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (which won the last six races in a row) and "Late Show With David Letterman" (which won the previous five before that), as well as "Saturday Night Live" (last won in 1993) and three-time nominee "The Colbert Report."

Bill Maher's Emmy snubs date back to a 1995 nod for "Politically Incorrect" as outstanding variety, music or comedy series. ("The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" won that year for the only time.) Maher's ABC show brought him 11 nominations in total – producing (eight), writing (two) and hosting (one).

His current HBO series had earned him eight nods before this latest one -– producing (four), writing (three) and hosting (one). In addition, Maher had losing producing bids for his 2006 special "Bill Maher: I'm Swiss" – that one lost to the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, no less – and last year for "Bill Maher: The Decider" which was beaten by "Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project."

As Maher's losses are mostly for producing and writing, Angela Lansbury's record of 18 losses as a performer remains safe for some time. Last September, Bill Maher told Gold Derby that he's cool with being the biggest loser of TV's top award. We huddled up at the Toronto Film Festival to discuss his documentary "Religulous."

At the time of the interview, he had 19 past defeats at the Emmys. You can tell from watching our discussion of this topic with "Religulous" director Larry Charles (a two-time Emmy winner for "Seinfeld") that Maher is, underneath it all, at least a bitirked. Note that Maher mentions that his Emmy losing streak might not matter if he wins an Oscar for "Religulous" as best documentary. But uh oh –  he was snubbed by the motion picture academy. 

Below is the portion of our chat where I ambushed Maher to get his view of his Emmy fate. In the past, whenever I had submitted a formal request to interview him on the subject, it had been ignored. So I decided to seize this opportunity while being granted time with him to discuss "Religulous." Normally, it's Maher who puts people in the hot spot. Oh, what fun it was to do so to him!

Photo: HBO


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