Originally created 07/25/02

Conan O'Brien to host Emmy Awards



PASADENA, Calif. -- The job of Emmy host is going to Conan O'Brien instead of NBC's top late-night star, Jay Leno.

"We think it's Conan's turn to be seen by the biggest audience that will ever" see him, NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker said of the "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" host.

"Jay was thrilled with that," Zucker added. The network gave "Tonight Show" host Leno the "courtesy" of informing him that O'Brien was NBC's Emmy pick, Zucker said Tuesday.

The show has been on a four-network rotation for several years and is often used by the networks to showcase their own talent.

In addition to O'Brien, "Today" hosts Katie Couric and Matt Lauer will anchor an hourlong pre-ceremony show for the Sept. 22 Emmy Awards, Zucker told the Television Critics Association.

O'Brien, talking to reporters later, was asked if he was concerned that Leno might be hurt because he was bypassed.

"That guy has so many cars," O'Brien said, jokingly, then added that Leno had called him Friday to offer advice.

"I mean, he's the host of the 'Tonight Show,' and I'm sure he's thrilled to have me do it. It's a lot of work," O'Brien said.

A call to Leno seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Bryce Zabel, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which organizers the Emmys, said he looked forward to an emphasis on the awards and glamour after last year's disruptions.

The 2001 ceremony was twice delayed, first by the Sept. 11 attacks and then by U.S. strikes in Afghanistan. A subdued show was finally held Nov. 4.

"One of the things we want to do is return to normalcy for the Emmys ... which means it's a high-stylin' night," Zabel said. "It's a time for people to walk the red carpet" and celebrate TV excellence.

"Six Feet Under," HBO's funeral home drama, is the leading Emmy contender with 23 Emmy nominations, followed by "The West Wing," NBC's White House drama, with 21 bids.