LOS ANGELES – The reality is, there won't be an Emmy host this year — there will be five.
The reality-TV hosts nominated in the new category that honors their work will preside over the show, ABC and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences told The Associated Press on Friday.
They are: Tom Bergeron, of "Dancing With the Stars"; Ryan Seacrest, of "American Idol"; Howie Mandel of "Deal or No Deal"; Heidi Klum of "Project Runway;" and Jeff Probst of "Survivor."
"It just seemed like a perfect way to stay current with the state of television today," said Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of the Sept. 21 Emmy broadcast on ABC.
The reality hosts also have the advantage of being "extremely engaging personalities" who are comfortable on stage, Ehrlich said. "At the end of the day, this is what they do for a living."
That could bring increased spontaneity to a ceremony that, by definition, has a certain amount of predictability, he said.
The popularity of reality shows also could provide a much-needed ratings boost: Last year, the Emmy broadcast — opposite a National Football League game — posted its second-smallest audience on record, just under 13 million.
The combined ratings for the five reality shows represent a "tremendous number of viewers," Ehrlich said, and it's hoped the Emmys benefit.
The total weekly audience for the five shows has recently averaged roughly 70 million, led by top-rated "American Idol." The singing contest on Fox routinely had more than 20 million weekly viewers last season.
None of the reality hosts balked at sharing Emmy duties, Ehrlich said. Hosts usually fly solo; Seacrest had the job in 2007.
"They were excited by this. They got it, what a fresh idea this was and how this could be fun for them," the veteran producer said.
An effort will be made to "treat each of the five people equally and hopefully find places in the show that each can shine," Ehrlich said.
The hosts will take the Emmy stage in the year of a Writers Guild of America strike that, in part, focused on a bid to unionize reality show writers. The effort failed but the guild now is holding so-called "truth tour" protests at "American Idol" nationwide auditions for next season.
Asked if some in the TV industry could see the choice of reality show hosts as an affront, Ehrlich declined comment.