Amy Poehler, Selena Gomez and More A-List Actors Shift to Hosting Unscripted Hits

For the 14th season of ABC’s perennial “Shark Tank,” the business moguls were joined by a gold-plated Great White — Gwyneth Paltrow.

The Emmy and Oscar-winning actor is a mogul in her own right, having built the lifestyle brand Goop into a global powerhouse and cultural trendsetter. Even with those credentials, the investment series, which has long anchored ABC’s Friday night and most of CNBC’s primetime, isn’t exactly an inevitable pit stop for Paltrow.

But she is just the latest Emmy-nominated or winning actress to explore the unscripted corner of TV. Just this year, a slew of female actors from nearly every genre either made the jump to the unscripted space or reaffirmed their place in it.

While Paltrow’s two-episode “Shark Tank” appearance won’t qualify her for another nomination, other female performers could court Emmy’s attention.

Elizabeth Banks has spent recent years behind the camera with films such as “Charlie’s Angels” and this year’s buzzy “Cocaine Bear.” But for the past few summers, she has been the host of ABC’s “Press Your Luck” reboot, which has proven to be a hit with audiences and miraculously avoided the dreaded double whammy when it comes to cancellation.

“Selena + Chef”

First launched during the pandemic, Selena Gomez’s “at-home” cooking series “Selena + Chef” on HBO Max became a favorite for her legion of fans and a complement to her role in Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building.” “Selena + Chef” recently earned a Daytime Emmy nomination, and her work in the unscripted series could boost her chances at nabbing a nomination for lead actress in a comedy at long last.

Although “The Final Straw” was canceled after one season, the sky-high goodwill Janelle James has earned as Principal Ava on ABC’s “Abbott Elementary” could keep her on Emmy voters’ minds. The elaborate Jenga-style game was a good use of James’ charisma, and it only made her a more exciting contender on multiple fronts.

Taking a cue from its Emmy success with “Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy,” CNN recruited “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria for her own heritage exploration. In each episode of “Eva Longoria: Searching for Mexico,” she visits a different place in that country, exploring food, culture and community.

NBC’s “Password,” the latest game show reboot buoyed by celebrity contestants, did something smart right out of the gate: it snagged Keke Palmer hot off her critically acclaimed role in “Nope” last summer. Hailing from Jimmy Fallon, the series gave viewers and Emmy voters exactly what they want –– celebrity guessing games and more Palmer.

The irresistible pairing of former “Saturday Night Live” costars Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph as hosts and executive producers of Peacock’s holiday-themed “Baking It” competition series was a gift that keeps on giving. Poehler and former “Parks and Recreation” co-star Nick Offerman were nominated three times as outstanding host for “Baking It’s” crafting predecessor, “Making It.” This spring, she also served as the narrator and executive producer of Peacock’s “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning,” which follows people as they declutter their lives.

 “Live With Kelly and Mark” mainstay Kelly Ripa made the jump back to primetime with her own ABC game show, “Generation Gap,” which forces generations to work together for prizes. With game shows now in the Primetime Emmys mix, her foray into new hosting duties could snag some attention to go with her many Daytime Emmys.

Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine diversified its offerings this spring with the Apple TV+ competition series “My Kind of Country.” Witherspoon, along with fellow executive producer Kacey Musgraves, appeared in the final episodes to help coaches Orville Peck and Mickey Guyton choose country music’s next big star from places far beyond the bright lights of Nashville.

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