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Inside Comedy Central's Emmy box: Stephen Colbert declares war on Jon Stewart

May 2, 2010 |  9:24 am
Comedy Central Jon Stewart1

Looks like Stephen Colbert will finally get the last laugh over his former Comedy Central mentor at the Emmys. Although "The Colbert Report" managed to beat "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" for best writing in a variety series in 2008, no program's been able to beat "The Daily Show" for best variety series over the last seven years. ("The Colbert Report" was nominated against it four times.) In August, "The Colbert Report" could win both trophies based on what's inside the Emmy campaign box recently shipped to the 14,000 members of the TV academy.

Campaign episodes tend to be the same ones submitted later to judges who determine winners. "The Colbert Report" just launched an Emmy weapon of mass destruction: its visit to U.S. troops in Iraq, where Colbert went through boot camp. It's not only hilarious, but it also features guest appearances by President Obama and Sen. John McCain. Best scene: Commander-in-chief Obama orders Gen. Raymond Odierno to give Colbert a buzz haircut. You can see the result in a photo below, where Colbert sits with soldiers in the audience.

See the full "Colbert Report" episode here, which is located at Comedy Central's FYC site. What's odd is that the site features a different episode of "The Daily Show" than the one inside the Emmy box. Which one will "Daily Show" ultimately submit to judges in the Emmy war over best variety series? We've asked the network's Emmy chiefs and await response. And what do Emmy-watchers think of the race? Read the reax of our forum posters.

"Lean and mean" is how Comedy Central describes this year's Emmy box. It's just like last year's package (two DVDs in one slender plastic case), which was far more modest than the one sent to voters in 2008.

Current contents:


"The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" -- Oct. 12, 2009 (Mike Huckabee guest)

"The Colbert Report" -- Stephen Colbert entertains troops in Iraq

"The Sarah Silverman Project" -- When Sarah grows a mustache, her sister tells Sarah that she was born a hermaphrodite.

"Important Things With Demetri Martin" -- "Attention"

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Can Oprah Winfrey squash Conan O'Brien AND Jon Stewart?

April 13, 2010 |  3:23 pm
Oprah Winfrey Conan Emmy TV news

Now that it's official that Conan O'Brien is heading back to TV with an evening gabfest, it means that he's returning to the Emmy derby — where he may run smack dab into Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah Winfrey just announced that she'll launch a new one-hour evening show, "Oprah's Next Chapter," on her new TV network OWN next year. That means she'll be eligible to compete at the prime-time Emmys. She may decide not to join. She quit the Daytime Emmys in 2000, allegedly because she'd won so many times that she wanted to step aside and give the glory to other shows. Granted, she had won nine times earlier (the most in Emmy history), but Oprah also had just lost twice in a row to Rosie O'Donnell's program when she pulled her show from competition. Some Emmy-watchers believed that Oprah was so furious about the double loss that she refused to endure defeat again.

Whatever the truth was about what happened to Oprah at the Daytime Emmys, she may choose to join the Prime-Time Emmy derby in order to hike the industry profile of her new show. If so, she may not have to worry too much about Conan O'Brien as competition.

It took Conan O'Brien a full decade of hosting "Late Night" before the show landed its first Emmy bid in the variety series category in 2003. It contended unsuccessfully in that race for five years, always losing to "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," which O'Brien will now face head-on in the ratings.

"The Daily Show" will surely turn out to be Oprah's toughest Emmy rival. Over all, it's won best variety show for seven years in a row. Last year, Jon Stewart was asked by reporters if he plans to "pull an Oprah" and pull his show from the Emmy race so other shows can win. He roared, "No!"

Photo: Oprah appeared as a presenter on the Emmys in 2008. Credit: ATAS.


What's behind 'Modern Family's' surprising Emmy ploy?

Gold Derby nuggets: Sigourney Weaver blasts Oscars over 'Avatar' snub | Behind the scenes drama at Pulitzers | 'Polytechnique' sweeps Genies

'Pyramid' to rise again on CBS daytime sked?

'Treme' -- HBO's next fierce Emmy juggernaut?

Tina Fey on 'Saturday Night Live': Give her another Emmy!

Emmy battle over best drama actor: Michael C. Hall vs. Bryan Cranston?

Tony Awards predix: 'American Idiot' and 'Enron' are front-runners to win best musical and play

David Sheward's gutsy, early Tony Award predictions

Photo gallery: Emmy's biggest snubs

'Lost' Emmy mystery solved: Terry O'Quinn returns to the supporting-actor race

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Jon Stewart can't win an Emmy for his showdown with Jim Cramer

March 13, 2009 |  8:16 pm

On the same day that Jon Stewart smacked down "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer on "The Daily Show" in a moment of must-see TV, came word that the  academy was eliminating the Emmy for individual performance in a variety series or special from the lineup this year. The powers that be are now going to include performers in the slate of nominated producers for those series and specials that make the cut. This move will cut down on the amount of hardware for which people like Jon Stewart, who is already a credited producer of "The Daily Show," can contend. The show has won the Emmy for best variety series for the past six years running.

For his work as the host of "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart lost his bids for the individual performance Emmy in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007. Competing in this catch-all category, he was bested by two singers (Sting in 2002 and Tony Bennett in 2007), a comedian (Wayne Brady for "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" in 2003), and an awards host (Hugh Jackman for the Tonys in 2005). Last year, Stewart was not nominated for his daily work but was a contender for hosting the Oscars. He lost to Don Rickles who won his first Emmy for the HBO documentary "Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project."

Stephen Colbert, a one-time correspondent for "The Daily Show," also lost this individual Emmy for his first three years of hosting "The Colbert Report." When Colbert lost his first race in 2006 to Barry Manilow for the special "Music and Passion," he memorably fumed about it to Stewart later during that same Emmycast. He would go to find comedy fodder in this defeat on many an episode of "The Colbert Report," one of which even included an appearance by Manilow. Take a listen to Stephen Colbert as he talked to us last summer about his Emmy wins (three for writing "The Daily Show") and losses. While he too would lose to Don Rickles at the then-upcoming Emmys, he and his team at "The Colbert Report" did win the writing award for the first time.

Below, highlights of the Stewart smackdown with Cramer. The full clip is here.


Could 'Kings' Ian McShane reign at the Emmys?

George Clooney and the rest of the returning 'ER' cast can't compete as guest stars at the Emmys

Can Oscar winner Susan Sarandon earn an Emmy for guesting on tonight's 'ER'?

Meryl Streep no-go on '30 Rock,' but Susan Sarandon joins George Clooney on 'ER'

As usual, Showtime launches first major campaign of Emmy season

'Desperate Housewives' Nicollette Sheridan waves goodbye to Wisteria Lane

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Gold Derby nuggets: Ralph Fiennes vs. Ralph Fiennes | 'The View' as Mount Rushmore = Emmy at last?

October 31, 2008 |  1:45 pm

Dave Karger is reporting that Ralph Fiennes is dropping down to the supporting actor race for "The Reader" as he shares the role with newcomer David Kross. This means Oscars voters will have to choose between this upcoming performance by Fiennes as a man who discovers his former lover (Kate Winslet) was a Nazi and his recent acclaimed turn as the hard-hearted husband of Keira Knightley in the costume biopic "The Duchess." Ralphfiennesduchess As Karger writes, "With his costar Kate Winslet currently set to be campaigned as Best Supporting Actress for the film, the movie now has no lead-acting contenders at all. The Academy usually lets that fly for an ensemble film like 'Babel' or 'Crash'; will they accept it for a three-hander like 'The Reader'?"Entertainment Weekly

• In the fourth of a weekly series of "Oscar Futures," those wags at New York mag's Vulture blog have the newly screened "Milk" up in the best picture race with "Gran Torino" down and out of the final five as "Wall-E" makes an appearance alongside perennial picks "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Revolutionary Road," and "Slumdog Millionaire. " While "Milk" star Sean Penn is up in the best actor race, supporting player Josh Brolin is bounced in favor of James Franco. And though Michael Sheen plays one of the two title characters in "Frost/Nixon, " he is urged to drop down to supporting. New York Vulture

Anthony Breznican recaps the upcoming Oscar contenders with release dates, plot summaries, awards appeal and quotes from the filmmakers. Due out next is "Slumdog Millionaire" on Nov. 12 which he says, "could fill the perennial underdog slot in the best-picture race. Reviews have been great, and academy voters like scrappy movies with big heart. " And as per director Danny Boyle on the main character: "He's got nothing going for him really, other than his determination and his dream. People will be rooting for him. " USA Today

• Talk about scary! The ladies of "The View" dress up as five former presidents for the Halloween edition of the daytime dishfest. Their political bickering has turned this talker into must-see TV and today should be no different with Whoopi Goldberg as FDR, Joy Behar as Teddy Roosevelt, Sherri Shepherd as Abraham Lincoln, Theviewemmy Elisabeth Hasselbeck as Ronald Reagan, and Barbara Walters as George Washington. Could this be the sample episode that finally wins them that Emmy for hosting after 11 consecutive losses? Remember, all contenders submit just one example of their best work from the past TV season to Emmy judges. E Online

• Emmy winner Michael Imperioli ("The Sopranos") talks about returning to series TV in "Life on Mars" with this change of pace role as a good guy (of sorts). As he explains his character in this time-shifting drama set in 1973, "P.C. has not even been a blip on the radar screen yet. To be a big-city detective is a very cool thing." New York Times

Matt Mitovich proposes a plan to keep the suddenly red-hot "Saturday Night Live" on the front burner following next week's election. Among his suggestions, have Tina Fey as her "30 Rock" character botching an imitation of VP hopeful Governor Sarah Palin. Could that triple Emmy champ's continued appearances bring this late night staple its first win as best variety series since 1993? TV Guide

• The last time Oscar nominee Mary McDonnell guested on a medical drama, she picked up an Emmy nod for playing Noah Wyle's mean mama on "ER" in 2002. Now, as Michael Ausiello discovers in this revealing interview, she is checking into "Grey's Anatomy" on Nov. 13 for a three-episode arc as "a very dignified real human being with a disability that can be very problematic for everyone." Entertainment Weekly


• The list of performers and presenters at the upcoming ninth annual Latin Grammys, continues to grow as we near the Nov. 13 kudocast airing live on Univision. Among the new names announced appearing at Houston's Toyota Center are Bando el Recodo and Los Tigres del Norte. Houston Chronicle

• Tony-nominated set designer David Rockwell ("Hairspray") will be handling the stagecraft for the Oscars this coming February. While this is his first time working on the kudocast, his firm designed the awards new home at the Kodak Theatre. AMPAS

• Last week, the first rialto revival of David Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow" opened to rave reviews. Tonight marks the first preview performance of the second revival of his breakthrough 1976 play "American Buffalo" with Tony nominee John Leguziamo joined by Broadway newcomers Cedric the Entertainer and Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment ("The Sixth Sense") as three would-be thieves. Playbill

• Hong Kong helmer Peter Chan's historic epic "The Warlords" leads with 12 nominations " including film, director and actor Jet Li for Taiwan's Golden Horse Film awards. While the box office hit "Cape No. 7" nabbed nine noms, John Woo's $80 million "Red Cliff" managed only four nods. The 45th edition of this awardsfest will be held December 6 in Taichung with winners being decided by a jury. Variety has the full list of contenders.

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Eavesdrop on bloggers dishing who should host the Oscars

September 26, 2008 |  4:37 pm

Yesterday I emailed a gang of my blogger cohorts who track the Oscars derby and asked: "Who agrees with me that Will Smith would make the bestest Oscars host? Let's start the drum beat! "

Among the people I cc'd in the email: David Carr (, Scott Feinberg (AndTheWinnerIs), Lou Lumenick (, T.L. Stanley (, Sasha Stone (, Kris Tapley (, Anne Thompson (, Jeff Wells ( And YOU gentle reader can jump in and vote in our Envelope poll HERE.


SASHA STONE: Ricky Gervais. Will Smith might feel compelled to rap the opening number. He might even call Jada and the kids out to rap along. Ricky Gervais, Steve Carell, Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert.

ANNE THOMPSON: "1.) Steve Martin, 2.) Billy Crystal, 3.) Jon Stewart. Gervais can't even open a movie. I have fantasies of Hugh Jackman doing a musical medley at the top of the show. With the new producers I hope the show will continue to be classy and insider smart. Smith might be fine but don't think his stardom necessarily changes the equation. The movies need to be popular, like 'Dark Knight.'" READ MORE

SCOTT FEINBERG: "I agree 100% that Smith would be great, but why on Earth would he do it? He's on top of the world right now, so why put himself out there? An Oscar host hasn't been able to generate good reviews from the majority of critics or good ratings from viewers in years. I'm afraid it's as thankless a job as being president these days! What do you think about the Gervais buzz, though? I think it would be worth the gamble for him, as someone who is a revered comedian in the UK but who is a much lesser-known quantity in the US, and I suspect he would be very good! "

LOU LUMENICK: "No, no, no to Will Smith; he's becoming the new Tom Cruise. If the new producers really want to think outside the box, I say Kal Penn and John Cho. The latter is a killer impressionist; he does the best Brando I've ever seen on the new Godfather box set."

DAVID CARR: "Colbert. Hands down. Genially savage appearance at WHCD should put everyone on notice that it won't be pretty, but will be pretty funny."

KRIS TAPLEY: "I've always thought Nathan Lane would be a great outside-the-box choice."

T.L. STANLEY: "Not that I don't love me some Fresh Prince, but he's broken my heart with all the Scientology shiznit, though people outside of NY/LA probably couldn't care less about that. I'm not convinced he'd be the right choice. Jon Stewart: played out, obviously. Carell? Good. Colbert? Better." READ MORE

TOM O'NEIL: "Will Smith will haul in the most eyeballs, which the Oscars desperately need. Ricky Gervais would be socko, but, as a draw, he's a zero. Jon Stewart? You're kidding, right? Maybe so he can co-host with David Letterman and Chris Rock? Do we believe that there's death in threes? Stewart's hosted twice so far, let's recall."

SASHA STONE: "Recall, are you kidding? There is only one way to save the Oscars. Nominate films people have seen and are invested in. "Titanic," "Gladiator," "Return of the King," "The Dark Knight." No one cares about the host. Well, unless they're reality TV show hosts and then it's like the Sarah Palin of hosts: you didn't know how bad it could be until you saw how bad it could be. Will Smith is still trying to rescue his film career. He wants to be Denzel Washington not Billy Crystal. Steve Carell."

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Gold Derby's official racetrack odds: Who will win the Emmys

September 19, 2008 | 10:50 am

OK, you've seen who all of the experts predict will win the Emmys (CLICK HERE), including me, but you haven't yet seen my careful breakdown of all contenders in each top category. Below: Gold Derby's racetrack odds. Please note: they're issued for entertainment purposes only and should not be used for gambling. Missing are the two reality races, but soon I'll add those odds too. Right now I haven't finished watching all of the episodes each nominee submitted to Emmy judges as samples of their best work.


My evaluations rely heavily on episode submissions. For example, note that I think "Saturday Night Live" is a real threat to "The Daily Show," which has won best variety series five years in a row. Granted, "SNL" hasn't won since 1993 and I still put "Daily Show" out front, but "SNL" submitted the same blockbuster episode that's likely to pay off with a win for Amy Poehler as best supporting actress: Tina Fey's return as host. Jon Stewart's episode is fantastic too — it's 20 minutes of ranting against the White House (of course) followed by a brief, fun chat with Judd Apatow.

But I don't think, like many of my peers, that Tina Fey will win best comedy actress. Three of her opponents submitted episodes that involved some element of split personality and that usually pays off with a victory. (Never again wonder how Lindsay Wagner won best drama actress for "The Bionic Woman" in 1977 — that's when she suddenly discovered her evil twin, remember?) In this year's derby, America Ferrera goes bonkers when sprayed with a poisoned perfume, Christina Applegate goes psycho when she hears the song "We've Got the Beat" on the radio and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, pumped up on testosterone, threatens to kick the "sorry, tanned, bleach-blonde, Botoxed" butts of rival school moms. The reason I give the best odds to Ferrera is because she stars in a one-hour program. The longest shows usually win — as Ferrera proved last year.

To see a full list of all episode submissions, CLICK HERE. Click through the subsequent pages of that forum to read the predix of our posters based upon what they think of those episodes. If you're curious to see what episodes were entered at past Emmy derbies, CLICK HERE. Remember: actors submit one sample episode; ditto for contenders for best variety and reality series. Nominees for best comedy and drama submit six that are paired off into three groupings that are randomly submitted to voters. Actors vote on actors, writers on writers, everybody gets to vote in the program categories. Roughly 250 to 300 voters volunteer to judge submissions in the races for best comedy and drama series. The typical acting category has about 50 to 75 judges.

"Mad Men" - 5/4
"Damages" - 7/5
"Lost" - 8/1
"House" - 9/1
"Dexter" - 10/1
"Boston Legal" - 50/1

"30 Rock" - 1/3
"The Office" - 8/5
"Entourage" - 20/1
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" - 30/1
"Two and a Half Men" - 40/1

Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad" - 2/1
James Spader, "Boston Legal" - 11/5
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men" - 13/5
Hugh Laurie, "House" - 8/1
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter" - 8/1
Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment" - 35/1
(NOTE: I changed this prediction from James Spader to Bryan Cranston on Sept. 19.)

Glenn Close, "Damages" - 2/1
Mariska Hargitay, "Law and Order: S.V.U." - 3/1
Sally Field, "Brothers and Sisters" - 7/2
Holly Hunter, "Saving Grace" - 4/1
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer" - 9/2

Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" - Even
Steve Carell, "The Office" - 5/2
Lee Pace, "Pushing Daisies" - 7/2
Tony Shalhoub, "Monk" - 6/1
Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men" - 50/1

America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty" - 2/1
Christina Applegate, "Samantha Who?" - 7/3
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "New Adventures of Old Christine" - 5/2
Tina Fey, "30 Rock" - 3/1
Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds" - 50/1

"John Adams" - 1/2
"Cranford" - 7/5
"Tin Man" - 30/1
"The Andromeda Strain" - 40/1

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Emmy predix: Can 'Saturday Night Live' really beat 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart'?

September 3, 2008 |  2:47 am

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" has won the Emmy for best variety series five years in a row, but our awards guru Robert "Rob L" Licuria ( believes that it'll soon be usurped by "Saturday Night Live," which last won the category in 1993. Acting much more prudent, Chris "Boomer" Beachum is sticking with "The Daily Show." But, hey: no guts, no glory! Go for it, I say, Rob! You do build a persuasive argument below.


1. "Saturday Night Live"
2. "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"
3. "Late Night with Letterman"
4. "The Colbert Report"
5. "Real Time with Bill Maher"

ROB'S COMMENTARY: I have a sneaking feeling that "SNL" is going to continue its resurgence this year by taking this award, for the first time in years and breaking the perennial Daily Show stranglehold on this category. It includes Emmy's most-feted performer this year (Tina Fey) front and center, and has also managed an Amy Poehler nod in the supporting-actress race. This is an early call, mind you, but I'm looking for an upset here. All I do know is that Bill Maher will sit this one out. Again.

1.  "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"
2.  "The Colbert Report"
3. "Saturday Night Live"
4.  "Late Show with David Letterman"
5.  "Real Time with Bill Maher"

BOOMER'S COMMENTARY: Until it loses, I must continue to predict "The Daily Show." There has been no indication from Emmy voters they are ready to annoint something else yet.  My personal preference would be for "Colbert" to finally prevail.  "SNL" has submitted one of its very best episodes in years ("Tina Fey/Carrie Underwood") but probably can't overtake these other two shows right now.  I don't think Letterman or Maher have a prayer.

(NBC, Comedy Central)

PODCAST: Stephen Colbert gives Jon Stewart the big kiss-off in their Emmy smackdown

August 7, 2008 | 12:57 pm

Stephen Colbert gives his former boss Jon Stewart cold-hearted news about the upcoming Emmys in today's podcast chat with Gold Derby.

It's cold-shoulder time if the program where Colbert used to toil as a writer — Stewart's "The Daily Show" — beats "The Colbert Report" again for best variety series, as it has for the past two years.

"I've told Jon, 'No more kisses if you win!'" Stephen Colbert confides to us. (CLICK HERE to Download the MP3 File and listen to the chat. NOTE: You may need to hold down your computer's control key while clicking.)


But Stephen Colbert also competes for the Emmy for best individual performance in a variety show, which he's lost twice to music legends — Barry Manilow in 2006 and Tony Bennett in 2007.

When Colbert lost to Manilow, he memorably fumed about it to Stewart later during that same Emmycast and made a big deal about it on subsequent episodes of "The Colbert Report," one of which included an appearance by Manilow.

"I was afraid this year that Paul Anka was going to be nominated," Colbert tells us, but this year he only competes against comedians — one of them a comic icon who was never nominated in the past.

"This year it's Don Rickles," he predicts. "It's all Rickles because it's a sympathy vote and I will tell you why. It's because his last name sounds like a degenerative, 19th century disease. 'Oh, you have to give it to him! The man's got rickles! Isn't that what happened to FDR? Didn't he have rickles as a child?'"

However, Colbert rushes to add: "Nothing would make me happier than to lose to Don Rickles — except maybe beat Don Rickles."

But Colbert also competes in that Emmy category against Stewart, who is nominated for hosting the Oscarcast — to mixed reviews. What does Colbert think about the negative reax to Stewart's emcee gig?

"I don't think you can win" when you host the Oscars, he says. "Everyone is the subject of unwarranted criticism when they do the show. I think people revel in the judgment of the host."


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