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How many late-night show staffers does it take to accept — or, more likely, lose — an Emmy Award?
If the swarms of New York-based writers, producers and crewmembers who descend on L.A. each year for the telecast are any indication, the answer — no joke — is in the double or triple digits. Four of this year’s six nominated variety talk series — Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show, John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal and Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show all broadcast from Manhattan — will fly their entire teams, anywhere from 60 to 120-plus, out West for the awards. It’s an invitation few decline. “I think the last time only eight people couldn’t go — and one of them was having a baby, so …” says Daily Show executive producer Jennifer Flanz.
For 20-year show vet Flanz, the tradition dates back to 2001, when the Jon Stewart-hosted version of the Comedy Central staple landed its first major nomination. JetBlue had just launched, and the show’s production coordinators worked out a deal with the airline agreeing to fly the staff cross-country in exchange for a few on-air shout-outs. “The first year, we really finagled getting everyone out there,” says Flanz, who’s making the trip for Noah’s iteration for the first time. “We were really a ragtag bunch back then, but it was really fun.” Win or lose, she adds, the trip is a major morale booster.
When they aren’t hitting up preshow soirees, the teams go full tourist — checking out the Hollywood sign, lounging en masse on the beach in Santa Monica and munching on In-N-Out (before the Drybar era, The Daily Show‘s male staffers would deliver burgers to their female colleagues as they were getting glammed up at the hotel). Staffers can count on bumping into former colleagues who’ve become the competition, as all four of the nominated NYC hosts got their start on The Daily Show.
“We’ve spread out all over the place, but we all still know each other,” explains Full Frontal exec producer and Daily Show alum Alison Camillo. “So when we get there, we already know where everybody is staying and we can stop by and see each other.” The Daily Show team traditionally stays around West Hollywood (at Le Parc Suites, the London and Sunset Marquis), but most prefer to avoid the “hourlong, sweaty limo ride to the ceremony” and bunk downtown at the Ace or the Intercontinental. “It all comes down to who’s got a pool,” says Camillo, with Flanz adding, “It’s always interesting to see all your co-workers in bathing suits!”
This story first appeared in the Sept. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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