LOS ANGELES – Five reality-show hosts will take center stage at Sunday's Emmy Awards, both as emcees and nominees. And just like at their day jobs, these five say they are ready for anything.
The five-star lineup includes Heidi Klum ("Project Runway"), Tom Bergeron ("Dancing With the Stars"), Howie Mandel ("Deal or No Deal"), Jeff Probst ("Survivor") and Ryan Seacrest ("American Idol"). Seacrest was solo ringmaster at last year's Emmys.
All are nominees in the new category of best host for a reality or reality-competition show.
In separate interviews, they proved ready and willing to poke fun at themselves -- but they're serious about keeping the show lively and focused on nominees, where they say it belongs.
Here's their take on topics including each other, the joys of live television and whether reality TV already has proven an Emmy winner with the attention to its shows and hosts.
AP: How will you work with your fellow hosts? Will there be a group song-and-dance number?
Klum: We should be doing something like that! ... I'm totally up for making fun of ourselves, doing goofy things. I'm up for a song and dance, definitely. I much prefer that to the super straightforward newscaster style. I'm totally up for the game. Bring it on!
Probst: I'm certain there won't be a group song-and-dance number, because I'm vetoing it right now.
Seacrest: I don't know that there will be too much choreography. However, the five of us know each other and have really good chemistry together. It will seem comfortable, natural and most of all fun. ... These shows are fun.
Bergeron: No song-and-dance, but we have some basketball moves we're really excited about, and Heidi's our forward. She's a supermodel and you add heels to that. ... It's gonna look like Snow White and the four dwarfs.
AP: With the five of you hosting and being nominated, are the Emmys finally giving reality TV the respect it deserves?
Klum: They are giving us huge props. ... Television has changed. Reality television is a huge part of our culture now and it's growing year after year. I think they just thought about it more and therefore gave reality television series nominations. And now they put hosts in there, too, and I'm so flattered to be in that group. I'm shocked, to be quite honest.
Seacrest: The Emmy telecast reflects what television is throughout the year. Certainly, throughout the last few years we've seen the evolution of unscripted shows and their popularity with audiences. ... It certainly speaks to the evolution of the medium.
Mandel: When I used to watch the Grammys in the first years when rap was getting accepted as a form of music, I feel like reality is the rap of TV. We've finally arrived and been accepted as part of the television industry. I feel like a television rap artist.
Probst: I think this was the Emmys' way of acknowledging that a majority of the most popular shows on television right now are reality shows. ... As far as having us host? I think it just means the pool is quite dry.
Bergeron: We'll find out the morning after the Emmys, when we look at the ratings. It may be the last time you see reality hosts anywhere near the show.
AP: Is Heidi Klum counseling you all on what to wear?
Mandel: However she'd like to dress me up, I'm happy to accommodate.
Seacrest: I haven't gotten any, but knowing how candid she is she'll have something to say. I hope I'm safe. I'm not going with any embellishment or accessory that may walk me to the line with Heidi. ... This is not the right place to debut something that will leave a mark with the audience.
Probst: I will take any advice Heidi would like to give me. Any at all.
Bergeron: Heidi's the fashion plate. We're gonna look like four maitre d's following her around.
AP: What are the best and worst things about hosting a live show?
Klum: The worst thing is that a lot of things can go wrong, but at the same time, that's also maybe a good thing, because maybe you can use that to your advantage and make a joke out of it. ... I wouldn't mind if one of the other guys would completely do some twisted thing on me and totally get me discombobulated and you kind of have to shift gears.
Probst: It's one and the same: it's that it's live. ... I think every host will tell you they love doing live better than anything because you're living in that moment of, `I can choose to say or do this right now and it will either work or it won't, and there's only one way to find out.'
Bergeron: The best thing undeniably is the unpredictability of it. When you walk out there, you have one shot at it and you best be completely focused and centered. The worst thing is it ends too quick. The most relaxed I am is when I'm on live television.
Seacrest: I love the moments that come in every live show that are unexpected. I love the interaction with the audience and people in the room and I loathe any word in the TelePrompTer. I'm not really great at the TelePrompTer.
Mandel: Free pants.
AP: Got any tips for winners delivering their acceptance speeches?
Seacrest: One line and out. The best thing on live television for the winner and host is to be in the moment and not overthink what you're going to do or say. That genuine, honest moment is what we like to see on television.
Mandel: I've never actually won anything, so I have no tips for anybody who might be winning something. But coming from comedy before I did `Deal' and working in front of a live audience, I think you just don't overthink. Go with your heart and go with your gut and whatever happens will be true and hopefully entertaining.
Probst: Yeah, get off the cards! Say what you want to say. Say something real. ... The best moments are when people shoot from the hip and actually say something honest. There's not enough of those moments.
Klum: It's always good to be humble. It's an honor to be there to begin with. I mean, yes, you want to win, but look at all these shows and all these things that are out there. Already having a chance to be on TV is a great thing.
Bergeron: The key thing would be that, as fascinating as they think their chakra alignment specialist and attorney's assistant are, leave them out. Keep the `thank yous' as concise as possible, and if you can name-drop while thanking people, even if you don't know them, do so. I once thanked Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and the pope. I don't know them, I just wanted to book them on `Hollywood Squares.'
AP: You're used to working in front of a live audience. What's different about working in front of an industry crowd or what's the most embarrassing thing that could happen?
Bergeron: Repeated acid reflux. It's hard to cover that.
Mandel: The only thing that makes this a little different is that within the midst of you trying to entertain and move a show along, you're also competing. That's the difference, I think. But I don't see any difference working in front of this crowd versus working in front of any live audience I work in front of. We're just all people with different jobs.
Probst: It's definitely different working in front of an industry crowd, especially since the Emmys are primarily for the scripted world. Anybody in the reality world always feels a little bit like the stepchild.
Seacrest: I see us as a big target -- a target of multiple people. Whereas you take the whole bullet as an individual.
AP: If you could trade jobs with another reality host, what show would you want to work on?
Bergeron: Howie's, because I always wondered what I'd look like bald.
Mandel: Heidi Klum. I think when you think fashion, you think Howie Mandel.
Probst: If I was going to trade shoes, I'd like to trade shoes with Ryan (Seacrest). I'd like to see Ryan do `Survivor' and see how he'd do it, and I'd love to just have a chance to go one-on-one with Paula Abdul.
Seacrest: Here's who I'd never trade jobs with: I would never trade jobs with Probst. That sweaty, humid cloud of tribal whatever he has to do in a tent is not the reason I moved to Southern California to pursue a career in broadcasting. I admire and respect every move he made on `Survivor' and he's safe from me wanting to step into his boots.