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Reality TV receives record 63 Emmy Awards noms, 'Dancing' leads


By Christopher Rocchio, 07/16/2009 

Reality television continues to rack up the Emmy nominations.

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Twenty-two reality television shows received a total of 63 nominations in today's announcement of the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards nominees -- with the number of shows and amount of total nominations both representing the genre's highest figures ever.

Leading the 2008-2009 reality TV Emmy Awards nomination field for the third consecutive year is ABC's Dancing with the Stars, which received 10 nominations from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences -- besting the eight it had received each of the last two years.

In addition, Dancing with the Stars' 10 nominations represent the most ever for a reality series in a single year.

Dancing with the Stars was able to claim two Emmy Awards last year after it had previously been shut out in 2006-2007.  The series had received six nominations in its first season in 2005-2006 and won two.

Fox's American Idol received eight nominations, tying its previous record in 2005-2006 and placing it second behind only Dancing with the Stars

The Fox mega-hit has claimed one Emmy Award in each of the last two years after it had previously been shut out during its first four years of eligibility, despite receiving 22 nominations.

CBS' The Amazing Race -- the most successful reality show at the Emmys with 11 statuettes -- received seven nominations, placing it behind only Dancing with the Stars and American Idol.  The seven nominations represent the highest total ever for The Amazing Race, which had been nominated for six Emmys last year and five Emmys in each of the previous three years.

Most notably, The Amazing Race was once again nominated in the Outstanding Reality-Competition Program category, which it has won every year since the Academy first created the category six years ago.

In addition, The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan was recognized by receiving a nod in the Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program category. 

Keoghan will be competing in a six-nomination field that also includes a shared nomination for Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi and "co-host" Tom Colicchio -- a surprising nomination that would seem to signal the Academy is still unsure how the singular-titled category, which was only created last year, should be defined.  While Colicchio holds a key role on Top Chef, the show credits him as its lead judge and mentor. not as a "co-host."

Keoghan and the Top Chef duo will be competing against American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron (who was not nominated alongside Samantha Harris, his genuine co-host), Project Runway host Heidi Klum (who was not nominated alongside Runway mentor Tim Gunn), and Survivor host Jeff Probst -- all of whom were included in the category's inaugural set of nominees last year.  Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel -- who as a pure game show host seemed out of place to begin with -- was the only the inaugural nominee not to be re-nominated again this year.

Bravo's Top Chef and Fox's So You Think You Can Dance each received their highest total of nominations ever with five apiece. Both shows are also in their fourth year of eligibility and won one award each last year.

For the third consecutive year Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch received four nominations, tying it with Project Runway -- which is down from the five it had received last year.  Despite receiving its highest number of nods last year, Project Runway has yet to record a win and is 0 for 16.

CBS' Survivor received three nominations for the second consecutive year, however it was also left out of the running for the Outstanding Reality-Competition Program award for the third straight year. 

Survivor had previously received a nod in the category every year since it was created in 2003.  It was first Emmy Award eligible in 2001 when it received five nominations and scored two wins.  It has only won one Emmy Award since, and that came last year when Probst claimed Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program honors.

Travel Channel's Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations received three nominations, including one in the Outstanding Nonfiction Series category, where it will compete against Deadliest Catch, PBS' American Experience and American Masters, the BIO network's Biography program, and Showtime's The American Life.  The three nominations are the first for the show, which debuted in 2005.

Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List will have a chance to three-peat as Outstanding Reality Program, as the show has once again received a nod in the  category -- as did A&E's Intervention, which received a total of two nominations for the second year in a row. 

Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs received its second consecutive nod in the Outstanding Reality Program category, while the network's Mythbusters and National Geographic Channel's Dog Whisperer each received their first nod in the category.

My Life on the D-List, Dirty Jobs, Intervention, Mythbusters and Dog Whisperer will compete for the Outstanding Reality Program Emmy against PBS' Antiques Roadshow, which -- despite the Academy's categorization -- would not normally be considered "reality TV" by most television viewers. Antiques Roadshow has received a nod in the category for five consecutive years but has yet to win it.

Noticeably absent from the Outstanding Reality Program category is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which had been nominated for the award during each of the last five years and won it in both 2005 and 2006 (My Life on the D-List has subsequently won the award each of the last two years).  Extreme Makeover: Home Edition did receive one nomination in the Outstanding Picture Editing For Reality Programming category.

In addition to My Life on the D-List, Dirty Jobs, Antiques Roadshow, Dog Whisperer Mythbusters and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, rounding out the nominations with one apiece are Fox's Hell's Kitchen; History Channel's Expedition Africa; Animal Planet's Whale Wars; Discovery Channel's Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment; NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice; and ABC's The Mole.

The 63 2008-2009 primetime season reality TV nominations (which required a program to air by May 31, 2009) continued the genre's upswing from 50 nominations in 2007-2008; 39 nominations in 2006-2007; 34 nominations in 2005-06; 26 nominations in 2004-05; 23 nominations in 2003-04; and 11 nominations in 2002-2003 -- the first year that a formal "reality TV" category was introduced to the Emmys.

The 22 shows nominated is also up from the 18 programs nominated in 2008, the 14 programs nominated in 2007, the eight programs nominated in 2006, and the nine programs nominated in each of the two previous years.

In the network reality TV race, Fox received a total of 14 nominations -- besting ABC's 12 nods and CBS' 10.  Bravo also scored 10 nominations -- up from the eight it received last year -- while NBC received its first nod after previously being shut out in each of the last two years.

The largest number of Emmys presented to reality shows for a single primetime season happened just last year, when Dancing with the Stars received two and The Amazing Race, Survivor, American Idol, Top Chef, Pirate Master, So You Think You Can Dance, Deadliest Catch and My Life on the D-List each won one for a total of 10.

It bested the previous record of seven, which occurred in 2006-2007 when The Amazing Race received three, So You Think You Can Dance received two, and American Idol and My Life on the D-List each won one.

Based on the 2008-2009 nominations, the top five reality television programs in all-time Emmy nods went unchanged -- as American Idol (42) retained the top spot followed by Survivor (36), The Amazing Race (33), Dancing with the Stars (32) and Project Runway (16).

The 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented on Saturday, September 12 (in the "creative arts" categories) and Sunday, September 20 (in the "major" categories, including Outstanding Reality-competition Program).

A complete list of reality TV nominees for the 2008-09 Emmy Awards can be found here.

(Photo credit ABC)


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