Sep. 21, 2012 at 9:03 AM ET
On Sunday night, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will honor the best the boob tube has to offer at the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards. Top dramas, comedies and more will receive well-earned recognition, as will the stars who bring those shows to life.
But while much of the pre-telecast buzz has focused on the expected big winners in the major categories -- for instance, those for the leading actors and actresses that make "Modern Family" or "Downton Abbey" must-see TV -- there's one Emmy award that promises to be a complete surprise no matter who wins it.
The Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding host for a reality or reality-competition program could have been called the Annual Jeff Probst Appreciation Award -- until this year. Every year since the category's inception in 2008, "Survivor's" main man has claimed the prize. But in a surprise omission, Probst's name didn't even show up among the nominees for 2012. This time the honor will go to another reality emcee.
But who? Those in the running include "The Amazing Race's" Phil Keoghan, who's been up for the award four times now; Cat Deeley of "So You Think You Can Dance," who's on the list for the second time; Betty White is in the running for the first time for her work on "Off Their Rockers"; and both "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest and "Dancing With the Stars" leading man Tom Bergeron are perennial nominees.
As for who will get the reality TV nod, that's anyone's guess. But who should get it? Well ...
Sure, a good argument could be made for any host on the list. White, a seven-time Emmy winner in other categories, is always a deserving sentimental pick -- for anything. And it's hard to find fault in how Keoghan and Deeley keep fans focused on their respective shows. As for Seacrest, he sets the bar for hosting a singing showdown. But if there's any justice in the world of reality TV (and yeah, that's open for debate), Bergeron should snag the award.
Like fellow contenders Deeley and Seacrest, Bergeron has to navigate the tricky nature of live TV for his gig, which is no small feat. But unlike them, he does it in an environment that borders on the absurd. He's surrounded by the constant distractions of a cavalcade of spray-tanned stars, a live orchestra, a massive glittering mirror ball, barely-there costumes and performances ranging from near-flawless attention grabbers to full-on, train-wreck awful. Yet somehow, he makes it all look easy.
Head judge Len Goodman and his fellow panelists bickering instead of critiquing? No problem. Bergeron swiftly moves them right along. Petulant pro hoofer giving the panel grief? Whatever. Quick-witted Bergeron finds just the right zinger to ease the tension. Star performer passes out on stage? Yikes! But Bergeron shows concern, reassures the crowd and throws to a commercial.
There's no one like him. The man performs on live TV with the ease of someone who's rehearsed it all before and the off-the-cuff spontaneity of someone who doesn't even need a rehearsal.
So, while the voting members of the Academy can't really make a bad decision by picking any of the reality hosts up for the award, they also couldn't make a better decision than to pick Tom Bergeron.
Which reality TV host do think deserves Emmy's top honor? Take our poll below and then share your thoughts on our Facebook page.
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