‘SNL’ & ‘Last Week Tonight With John Oliver’ Face Unusual Emmy Battle

Two of the most celebrated shows in Emmy history are set to experience a weird awards season.

Saturday Night Live, which has won more Emmys than any other show in television history, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which has won in its category eight years in a row, could both face the indignity of not being officially nominated for an Emmy as a result of submission rules.

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The number of submissions in the Outstanding Scripted Variety Series category is expected to be significantly lower than last year. In addition to SNL and Oliver’s HBO show, the only other shows understood to be submitting in this category are CBS’ Taylor Tomlinson-hosted After Midnight, HBO’s Painting with John and The Magic Prank Show with Justin Willman, which launched in April.

Per TV Academy rules, categories with fewer than 7 submissions will be “screened by the appropriate peer group for nomination”.

This is in contrast with last year’s 12 submissions, which included a number of shows that have subsequently been canceled including HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, which was nominated, and Random Acts of Flyness, Paramount+’s Inside Amy Schumer and Crank Yankers, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News and Showtime’s Ziwe.

SNL, which has received over 300 nominations and secured 84 wins, and Last Week Tonight, which has over 60 nominations and 28 wins, are now heading towards a juried selection, with entries that received approval from 90% of the group receiving a nomination. However, if they don’t, the show with the highest approval receives the Emmy.

“This is a major snub,” said one source close to one of the shows.

Sources suggest that something will need to be changed with the late-night categories if this is the case for the Outstanding Scripted Variety Series category, while the Outstanding Variety Talk Series category is not faring much better.

It’s not looking like a great year for Lorne Michaels, who is also involved in two shows – The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers – vying for nominations in the latter category.

A similar lack of submissions – largely thanks to a number of shows that are no longer on the air such as The Late Late Show With James Corden, The Amber Ruffin Show, Hell Of A Week with Charlamagne Tha God, Pause With Sam Jay and The Problem With Jon Stewart – means that category could only have three nominations – down from five last year.

Given The Daily Show’s recent win under Trevor Noah and Jon Stewart’s return, the Comedy Central series is expected to be in with a healthy shout, while Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert are regulars in that category. Meyers’ show has earned nominations for the last two years.

Then there’s also the introduction of John Mulaney Presents: Everybody’s in L.A, a wildly chaotic show that was well received, and Hot Ones, which drew attention recently for the appearance of late-night legend Conan O’Brien.

This time last year, the late-night community was celebrating five nominations but are expected to be slightly more disappointed this time around.

Emmy voting for nominations begins June 13.

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