Emmys

Cat Deeley Talks SYTYCD Emmy Nod: Cheering Seacrest, Toppling Probst, Skirting Fashion Hell

For several years running, reality TV junkies have lamented Emmy’s outrageous snub of So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley in the Outstanding Reality-Show Host category. Last Thursday, however, the oversight was finally remedied, as Deeley found herself scoring her very first nomination alongside Survivor‘s Jeff Probst, American Idol‘s Ryan Seacrest, The Amazing Race‘s Phil Keoghan, and Dancing With the Stars‘ Tom Bergeron. We caught up with Deeley this week to talk about how she’ll approach her big red-carpet moment, why she’s rooting for Ryan Seacrest to beat her in her own category, and which Happy Days character she emulated when she first got word of her nomination.

TVLINE | Congratulations on what has to be the most overdue Emmy nomination in the world of reality television.
[Laughs] Well thank you very much. That’s very, very kind of you. But it doesn’t matter how long I had to wait, as long as I got there in the end; the wait just made everything more exciting. I’ve been trying to stay really cool, like Fonzie, but I’m actually much more Richie Cunningham. I’m like an overexcited hormonal teenager.

TVLINE | Seriously, though, did you ever start feeling like you’d never be recognized, or recalibrate your expectations to not get your hopes up about a nomination?
To be perfectly honest, it was one of those things where I was literally like, “Okay, well, I’ll just wait and see.” Of course it was something that I would’ve really liked in an ideal world, but I’m also quite lucky that I love my job. And so while it’s lovely to be recognized in some way, shape, or form, I always consider myself such a lucky girl anyway. A nomination was secondary, the cherry on top of the cake.

TVLINE | Did you get up early and watch the nominations on TV?
Absolutely not! I was asleep in bed. And then my phone rang, and I had one of those moments where you sit bolt upright and gasp. I went to the phone, and it was my publicist, and I thought: “Would Emily call me if I hadn’t gotten a nomination?” That was actually what went through my head. And then when I found out, I’ve got a couple friends staying with me, and there was lots of jumping up and down, and general hoopla, as one might say.

TVLINE | Plus, So You Think You Can Dance itself got its first nomination this year as Outstanding Reality Show Competition.
Oh my God, it was so much fun. And the great thing was that we had the [Thursday-night results show] to do the day of the nomination announcement. [Shortly after] they announced the nominees at 5:30 a.m. or whatever God-forsaken time it was here in L.A., I was literally running around trying to get myself ready for work. I jumped in the shower, I was standing there doing an interview with Ryan Seacrest — live on radio — in bra and knickers, soaking wait hair, trying to stuff as many cocktail clothes as I could into a bag with high heels, thinking “I hope I’ve got the right thing to wear later!” And then I got to the studio, and it was such a great celebratory feeling, because the show had been nominated, too. And I walked into my dressing room — all my girls were there with champagne and balloons and group hugs. It was great.

TVLINE | So minutes after you got the news, you were on the phone doing an interview with one of your competitors in the category?
Well, [Ryan] was recording for the next day’s [radio show]. And I was saying how overexcited I was, and he was like, “OK, Deeley, let me tell you how it’s gonna go: You’re gonna find a gorgeous frock, you’re gonna look beautiful, I’m gonna wear a suit. We’re gonna go down there and make some polite conversation with lots of people we don’t really know that well. We’re gonna sit there and get a little bit bored, then Jeff Probst is gonna get up, thank everybody and the Emmy voting committee, and then we’re all gonna go out and have cocktails.” And I was like, “Seacrest! You underestimate me! I think what we should do is work as a tag team and take out the competition. So I’ll create some kind of disturbance, then you can stick your leg out when Jeff is on his way up to the podium and take him down, and then it’s every man for himself. Whoever makes it to the podium first can take that Emmy home!” And he was like, “That’s why I love my English friends.” And I was like, “And that’s why we build empires!”

TVLINE | That’s a very Survivor-esque strategy — form an alliance, bring down the enemy.
[Laughs] The irony isn’t wasted on me! I’ll show you Survivor!

TVLINE | The night before your nomination, Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson was a guest judge on SYTYCD, and he specifically mentioned his wish that you finally get recognized by Emmy. Are you going to advocate to have him on every year as a judge during Emmy nomination week?
I should! He could be my lucky charm! What was lovely was that he got a nomination, too. I snuck into his dressing room before he arrived [for the results-show telecast] and wrote on his mirror in red lipstick — congratulations and I’ll see you there — and kissed the mirror all over.

TVLINE | When Jesse paid you those compliments on air, you actually blushed. It seemed very real, not one of those scripted reality TV moments we’re used to.
I didn’t know that was about to happen at all. And being British, we’re not very good at taking compliments. We get little bumbly and a little Hugh Grant about it, you know what I mean? And I almost cried a little bit as well.

TVLINE | I have to ask, beyond your own nomination, was there any other nominee you got excited about?
Seeing So You Think You Can Dance get its own nomination is really great. We were nominated for five of the six choreography slots, and that’s amazing, but that’s more expected for a dance show. [Getting nominated for Outstanding Reality Competition] proves we’re not just a specialized show that only dancers can watch; it’s an entertainment show that the whole family can sit on the couch and really enjoy. I was also very excited to see Jon Hamm nominated [for Mad Men], because he’s an amazing actor.

TVLINE | When you first got this gig, did you envision being the kind of host you are — where you seem to really forge strong connections with the contestants, and really show on air an empathy for what they’re experiencing?
It was never a preconceived notion I had, really. But these people are incredibly talented, they’re incredibly passionate about what they do, and they work really, really hard. What we’re doing is taking normal human beings and putting them in the most extraordinary circumstances. And it’s live in front of millions of people, and there are no retakes. So you’d have to be a pretty strange person to not connect with these contestants. One thing I didn’t envision is that we’d be on Season 8, going as strong as we are. In the beginning, I had these terrible fears that if this didn’t work, I’d be the big bad English scapegoat that they’d send home in disgrace.

TVLINE | You’re not afraid to have fun with the judges, nor to push their buttons a little; occasionally, you even call them out on inconsistencies. Is that hard to do considering one of the judges, Nigel Lythgoe, is also your boss?
Nigel’s actually a really great boss, and lets me do what I want. The one thing I would never do is comment technically, because I don’t have that knowledge and those guys do; even our guest judges have all got real heavyweight backgrounds. But if I feel like one week they say to a couple, “That was great because you put your own style in it,” and the next week they say, “No, you were putting your own style in it, and that’s not good,” then I’ll jump in. I listen to everything. The big thing is, if you are actually in the moment and you really do listen, you know what you’ve got to say. But if you ever step out of it, try to self-edit, I don’t think it works. The right thing will always come to you as long as you’re in the moment. And Nigel has never said “These are the parameters you can work within, or these are the constraints that we have on you.” They let me do what I like.

TVLINE | I’m already regretting this question, but… So you think you can win — an Emmy?
Providing Seacrest keeps his end of the bargain! [Laughs.] You know what, I know I’m not gonna get it. I actually think Ryan deserves it. He handles American Idol with such ease. To do a live show and try to keep it moving, keep the judges moving, hold together the mechanics of the show, it’s quite a dfficult thing to do in live TV, and he does it so effortlessly. And I have to say it’s a shame he hasn’t ever won. It’s the biggest TV show on the planet, and not that many people can be wrong. At some stage, someone is going to have to acknowledge the show, and this is the perfect year for Idol to be recognized. When Simon Cowell left, there was a big debate: Is this show going to continue to be successful? And what Nigel did so brilliantly was put together that panel of people and made it very feel-good. It absolutely proved the show is bigger than just one person or part.

TVLINE | One last thing: Beyond the fact that SYTYCD fans are excited that you didn’t get snubbed this year, there’s an added bonus that known fashionista Cat Deeley is going to be shopping for an Emmy dress as a first-time nominee. How much pressure is there for you to deliver the goods on the red carpet?
It’s like being given the most humungous, delicious, exquisitely heavenly box of chocolates, and going, “Ooh! Which one will I have first?” I’ve got a few ideas already, and a few [designers] have approached me about wearing something for them, and it’s heavenly for me.

TVLINE | Are you leaning toward something bold, something where you’ll either be best or worst dressed, or can we expect you to go classic and traditional?
Oh, I’ll probably go quite classic. Because you don’t know how many times you’re going to be nominated, and if this is my only time, I don’t want to go down in fashion hellfire and be banished to purgatory in some terrible dress. I’m a girl from a small town outside of London, my mom and dad aren’t anyone famous, I never went to [private] school, and it’s kind of bonkers, if you think about it — for me to be doing a show I love as much as I do, and to have this [nomination], too. So no, this is not the moment to take huge fashion risks; it’s a moment to really enjoy it, and to make sure I can hitch that skirt up if I do need to run to the podium to beat Seacrest. [Laughs] It’ll be all about aerodynamics.

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36 Comments
  1. Yesses says:

    my love for cat knows no bounds. this is one classy lady.

    • JayK* says:

      You said it! Love her to pieces.

      • KevyB says:

        You know, I really cannot understand why Probst wins this thing all the time. He’s fine and all, but everything he does, except the reunion show, is edited for television. Those tribal councils go on for hours and they pick and choose the most interesting parts to air. For all we know, he could be asking the most imbecilic questions for an hour of the thing but we’d never know. And is it that hard to holler at contestants during challenges? Cat, and other live hosts, have much harder jobs. In fact, I remember the first year I watched SYTYCD, not really knowing anything about it, and thinking the first show that she was absolutely fantastic. She truly deserves the Emmy every year.

        • laugh says:

          I think part of it is his Finale Live Show. He does that really well. I do believe that he’s been recognized enough times for us to GET IT that Survivor is the one that started the reality “boom”. I’m surprised that Survivor wasn’t nominated as a show during it’s Fans vs. Faves season. The Boston Rob season sucked and I stopped watching after episode 2.

          GO CAT!!!! Ryan doesn’t need an Emmy, he’s got is 13 television shows to comfort him.

    • Laugh says:

      Gush! I so agreeee!!!!

    • Linda Goumenis says:

      I am so very happy that Cat Deeley is up for an Emmy. From the first time I saw her on So You Think You Can Dance, I was admired by her smile, how she got along with the panel of judges, as well as, the contestants. She never,ever haa a negative thing to say to the contestants. She is like their big sister and I think that she is an asset to the show. Hope that she will continue to represent herself as host of SYTYCD…Congratulations Cat…Well Deserved

  2. Eli says:

    One of the very few people in the reality tv world who actually seems 100% genuine. She deserves to win.

    • Natasha says:

      I completely agree! She seems like the only genuine people on tv. She doesn’t seem like she is constantly in need of attention.

  3. Phoebi says:

    Can this interview alone win her the Emmy?

  4. S says:

    Cat Deeley is the epitome of class, isn’t she? She just comes across as so genuinely delightful; I really hope she’s going to win the Emmy this year.

    • forrest says:

      wow. Her responses are so genuine and delightful. Great reflections of a great host and person in general. I may have to try to watch SYTYCD for her if I can ever get past trying to watch NL after what he did to American Idol. Just sayin’…….

  5. Taylor says:

    Now I’m picturing Jeff taking a tumble while Cat and Ryan run (in slow motion of course) to the podium to snatch the Emmy.
    That would be the single greatest moment of tv ever!!! I love all 3 as hosts, but Cat’s compassion and connection to the contestants, judges, and viewers is what makes her stand out :)

  6. Jen says:

    Could she be any more adorable? Cat is a major part of why I watch SYTYCD and this is not only well deserved, but long long overdue.

  7. Shannon says:

    Cat Deeley is just the absolute best!!! I actually clapped at my computer screen when I saw she she finally got her much deserved nomination. Love her!!!

  8. Bee says:

    What a charming, funny, eloquent woman! She is so deserving, as all posters here have written. I hope she wins….I can imagine her speech being full of gratitude, shock and humor. Absolutely love her!

  9. Louie says:

    So happy she finally got her due, even if it’ll only end as a nomination and not a win (but who knows, right?) as she rightly deserves to be over the highly over-rated Klum

  10. Renee says:

    I love this woman. She seems to be one of the most genuine people in the world. It’s not fair really. Gorgeous. Funny. Nice. Classy. God was very generous the day she was born.

  11. kyrjar says:

    Agreed with all the Cat love. Thrilled that she was finally nominated. One of the ones that I specifically looked for.

    I generally watch American Idol and have watched Amazing Race and Survivor in many seasons — but Cat is the best host. Completely genuine and approachable while being astonishingly stunning.

  12. Dog says:

    “It’ll be all about aerodynamics.”
    Seriously, she’s just the most loveable famous person out there.

  13. Amy says:

    All of these people host their show with ease and do their jobs very well, but Cat goes to a whole new level of grace, enthusiasm, and genuine affection. In a world where there is so much unreality in “reality” TV it is refreshing to see such a real person!

  14. fiona says:

    when I was reading this interview, Cat’s voice was in my head lol.

    But yes she definitely deserves this. My favourite reality personality =)

  15. Matte says:

    I think I am with the rest of the world in saying Cat’s nomination is long overdue. I always was so puzzled why Emmy never recognized her or even the show. What makes her so outstanding is how effortless she makes it look. She is so genuine and compassionate, I hope she wins!

  16. Mandy says:

    it is bonkers that this is only her first nomination. She should have definately won before! Though I must say, Cat is really hitting her stride this year, so if she doesn’t win for last season, then she definately deserves the win next year. She has been fabulous and so sweet. She is the best of all the reality hosts and handles the challenges with ease. Cat for the win!

  17. Fran says:

    Cat is just adorable. Hard to understand why she was overlooked for so long. I hope this is her year to win. The other ones are good too. But she has a knack for communicating her infectious enthusiasm, and it is obvious that she also is a source of comfort for the contestants, no matter the circumstances, therefore, a lot goes into it even away from the camera. SYTYCD to me is simply the best reality show right now, finding great talent, developing them and nurturing them to further their careers and offer opportunities. Heartwarming to see, real feel good TV without nastiness, and there really are no losers : anybody who makes top 20 is awesome and inspiring in their own way.

  18. KMG says:

    If there was ever any doubt that she is the absolute best at what she does (and there wasn’t, IMHO), just look at last night’s show… calling Ricky back to the stage and then telling him, “no one noticed”! Wandering over from the floor and leaning on Tadd’s legs at the edge of the stage! Totally off-the-cuff banter with all three judges that was hysterical and playful without ever veering into “cocky”! Keeping the show on schedule despite 20 dancers running on and off stage, 3 judges babbling on their own schedules, a live audience to control, and ridiculous high heels (which she commented on herself)!

    Totally a class act… always.

  19. JimW says:

    I absolutely love Cat, and just when I thought I couldn’t love her more, I watched her interview with Craig Ferguson from a couple of weeks ago. She is an absolute joy to watch.

  20. Edmond Avakian says:

    I believe it is always a political matter to have a host from United Kingdom on our National Television let alone keep her for seven seasons. The fact that she had to keep active with hosting shows back in UK, flying the Atlantic twice a week is indication she is on a mission to bring the people of the two countries to an undersatnding which is critical of our present affinities in the world. The job would be well done if she was a bit model a bit dancer a bit musical a bit smart a bit cute a bit funny and I think even sir Nigel Lythgoe agrees. Just the nomination alone is good recognition if you asked Cat Deeley and I wish her whatever it takes to keep her on our soil for years to come.

  21. Erica says:

    I love Phil and Ryan, I feel like they genuinely know their contestants but OH MY GOSH does Cat deserve to win this! She has been amazing every season but this season she has never stood out to me more. I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard this season with comments that she gives and I love how humble she is…saying how little she knows about dance…and that’s what makes her so real and so deserving of the win!

  22. Ashley says:

    Cat…..has got style, class, elegance, personality, a sense of humor….and and shes one of the most beautiful hosts ive ever seen. I hope she gets gold! I love the show…it makes me feel so much in 2 hours. It wouldnt be the same without her. Congrats on your nom Miss Cat!

  23. Malia says:

    Cat deserves this Emmy. But she does talk sometruth about Seacrest. Wish they both could beat the pants off of Probst! Love ya Cat!

  24. trương says:

    I like her style very much…

  25. Tami says:

    It’s great to see Cat FINALLY get the recognition she deserves. She is such a phenomenal host and knows just the right things to say to the contestant that is being eliminated who is feeling down, and redirects the judges to keep things running in the right direction keeping things light and fun. The show would just not be the same without her. What a classy lady.

  26. drewnightwalker says:

    If emmy is really a political award giving body and cat has the slightest chance to win.. but hands down shes the best host out there.. maintaining to balance very well professionalism, humour and compassion.. a real class act.. totally deserving of an emmy award..

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