By Steve Pond
He’s lost to Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Dennis Miller and the Tony Awards … and for 10 years in a row, his show has lost to “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” as that series has fashioned a record winning streak in the Outstanding Variety Series category.
So while Susan Lucci parlayed 18 consecutive Daytime Emmy losses into the stuff of legend, prompting banner headlines when she finally took home the gold for “All My Children” in 1999, Lucci’s not the Emmys’ biggest loser by a longshot.
That title goes to Bill Maher, who has now been nominated 32 times without a win over the last 17 years.
Maher has competed in nine different categories over the years, missing the gold as a writer, a performer and a producer for “Real Time With Bill Maher,” “Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher” and his standup specials.
To be fair, Maher has only lost 29 of those times — the last three are pending. But his three current chances to break the losing streak will more likely become three more times to break his own record for futility, since he’s hardly the favorite in the Outstanding Variety Series, Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series and Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series categories. (“Real Time With Bill Maher” was nominated in the first two categories, and the Maher-produced “Vice” in the third.)
Maher doesn’t like to talk about his Emmy track record, but GoldDerby’s Tom O’Neil once ambushed him with a couple of questions during an interview about his 2008 documentary “Religulous.” (At the time, he was 0-for-21.) “Why have I never won one?” he said. “I wear that as kind of a badge of honor. ’Cause I’m a gangsta, so I don’t expect them to ever give it to me.”
Besides, he said, that many nominations is nothing to dismiss. “That’s pretty damn good,” he said. “You know, there are hundreds of people who would like a nomination. So I want to put that perspective out there.”