John Mulaney’s ‘Everybody’s in L.A.’ Moved to Emmys Talk Series Category to Face Late Night Hosts (EXCLUSIVE)

Everyone’s in the Emmy race, but Netflix and the Television Academy feel John Mulaney is better suited for a different category than intended — and that may only benefit his awards run.

Netflix’s live smash “John Mulaney Presents: Everybody’s in L.A,.” featuring the Emmy-winning stand-up comedian celebrating the quirks and unique personality of his beloved city, was massively popular on the platform. The streaming giant had planned to submit the show into the scripted variety category, where it would compete against the long-running “Saturday Night Live” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” However, Variety has learned exclusively that Netflix and the creative team felt the show was better suited for the talk series category and, as a result, will now compete against late-night hosts such as Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Fallon.

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The six-episode series, which aired during the Netflix is a Joke Festival in May, sees the former series creator sitting down to have candid and hilarious conversations with a wide range of guests, including Jon Stewart (a competitor as one of the many hosts and producers of “The Daily Show”). Alongside his witty sidekick Richard Kind and the very efficient Saymo, the robot delivery cart, Mulaney’s ’70s-inspired talk back is the latest to shake up the category, devoid of an agreed-upon frontrunner.

Each episode covered different themes, such as coyotes and helicopters, and featured multiple pre-taped sketches, which made it seem like a natural fit against sketch shows. However, most of the show’s runtime had Mulaney sitting down with multiple guests, taking live phone calls, and doing what he does best: making everyone laugh.

Mulaney’s experimental program is the latest tale of the consistent depletion of submissions in the talk series and scripted variety categories over the past few years. When the TV Academy renamed and redefined the races in December 2022, it was hopeful it would allow synergy in submissions, nominees and eventual winners. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case.

Last year, 19 series were entered for talk series, which invited five nominees to the ceremony. With the addition of Mulaney and the recently announced “Hot Ones,” Variety is tracking 13, which includes late-night staples Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Fallon. Per Emmy rules, that will produce three nominees in the category.

Regarding scripted variety, which had 12 submissions in 2023, bringing three shows to the lineup, we are currently tracking only five submissions — the aforementioned John Oliver and “SNL,” along with Netflix’s “The Magic Prank Show with Justin Willman,” CBS’ “After Midnight” and the now-canceled “Painting with John” from HBO/Max. Per nomination procedures, when categories have fewer than seven entries, the submissions will be screened by the appropriate peer group for a nomination; any entry that receives nine-tenths approval will receive a nomination. Think of it as a simple “up or down vote,” and then consider how difficult it can be to score 90% approval in anything. Last year, the approvals for the new guild contracts were 87% for DGA and 78% for SAG-AFTRA.

The rules further state, “If none of the nominations receives 90% approval, the nomination with the highest approval receives the Emmy.” If all fail to meet the threshold, last year’s winner, John Oliver, could receive an automatic statuette without any other nominees alongside him. The TV Academy has to figure this out.

Nonetheless, it’s certainly possible TV Academy members would love to reward Mulaney’s infectious spirit and audacious comeback in the past two years. While his chances do increase, there’s very little room for error, with only three votes available to members to cast.

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