We’re loaded with likely candidates for the ultimate collection of entertainment adulation.
Winners of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony are part of very exclusive company. In 57 years of possible eligibility, the club has only admitted 12 members. Both the industry and the awards themselves have changed a lot in that time, making the odds of joining this group difficult to sort out – but your best chance of EGOTing (assuming you’re an actual entertainment professional) is something like 1 in 34,500 (about 0.00003%).
Given those abysmal odds, take a moment to consider the sad case of Anthony John “Tony” Walton. Walton is an accomplished Set Designer, Costume Designer, and Art Director. He designed the costumes for Mary Poppins, All That Jazz, and The Wiz. His childhood love for Winnie the Pooh inspired the Sherman Brothers to songwriting greatness, and Diana Ross hand-picked him to design what she wore on a couple of occasions. He’s one award away from an EGOT, but there simply isn’t a Grammy for set or costume design. Walton is one of three people named Tony who have won a Tony – so at least there’s that – but he didn’t make our cut of potential EGOT recipients. In fact, among people still living who are need a single award, he’s the only one whose discipline specifically precludes him from completing the set.
We took the most ripe and well positioned candidates and tried to determine who will be the lucky #13 to win all four. Our formula weighs how relevant the hopeful is to voting bodies and the public against the relative difficulty of mounting the production needed to win the award they require. The resluting AFAIKEGOTETA score is on a theoretical scale of 1-40. The higher your score the more likely you are to be the next to win your missing award.
First let’s acknowledge some gaps in our algorithm – our system presumes that the voting bodies work according to self-imposed traditional behavior, which is true for the most part. However, EGOTing director Mike Nichols’ unusually long wait for his final award would have tripped us up – he waited 34 years between his Oscar in 1967 and his Emmy in 2001. (The median time to complete an EGOT is 25.5 years, but the median wait for the last award is only 4 years.) Whoopi Goldberg would have had the imagined alternate-timeline staff of AFAIK all abuzz in 2002, when she became the first (and only) EGOT winner to knock out two awards in one year – grabbing an Emmy and a Tony just 22 days apart (and totally Jumpin’ Jack Flashing our system in the process). Still, the AFAIKEGOTETA would have accurately predicted the EGOT wins of Scott Rudin in 2012, Mel Brooks in 2001, and Jonathan Tunick in 1997. Robert Lopez would have been second in the AFAIKEGOTETA running in 2014, less than a point our current front runner.
Ladies and gentlemen, because the world is sometimes a just and wonderful place, Maggie Smith is the most likely to be the next EGOT winner. Let’s break down Dame Maggie’s chances, along with a few other notable contenders:
AFAIKEGOTETA: 32.6/40 (#1)
Good signs: Smith has a lot of Downton Abbey momentum without any of the obligation of an active commitment. The Grammy is the easiest of all the awards to win, given the relatively low cost of production for an audiobook, Smith’s most likely path to eligibility. She’s waded in audio waters before with dramatized works of “The Country Wife” and “The Lady in the Van” for BBC radio.
Problem points: Smith is 81, and probably has a pretty high standard for projects she’ll work on. She rarely gives interviews, so it’s difficult to discern what her level of activity will be in her post-Downton career. Downton Abbey was based on a book called “To Marry an English Lord: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery“, which would seem like a slam dunk project, but the current audio edition was produced in 2012 and is performed by total audiobook rock star Kate Reading, so a redux is not likely.
Seriously though, #DameMaggieNeedsaGrammy.
Trey Parker & Matt Stone
AFAIKEGOTETA: 32/40 (Parker, #2) & 26/40 (Stone, #5)
Good signs: If anybody is going to beat Dame Maggie to the prize, it’s probably the duo responsible for South Park and The Book of Mormon. Parker has a previous Oscar nomination for Best Original Song (“Blame Canada”), and the two formed “Important Studios” in 2013 with the apparent goal of making a feature film from “The Book of Mormon”. The last two EGOT winners, Scott Rudin and Robert Lopez, were the producer and songwriters for the musical – and Rudin is already attached to produce the film. There’s not a warmer opportunity on the horizon for any of the hopefuls than that.
Problem points: Will the Academy do more than nominate these guys? Screenwriting Oscars for folks like Quentin Taratino and Sacha Baren Cohen help lead the way – but you’re still talking about a pair who have made it a point to lampoon Hollywood at just about every opportunity – both as an institution and the individuals that make up that institution. Asking for enough Academy voters to have a healthy sense of humor where their own pride is concerned may be a tall order.
AFAIKEGOTETA: 28.6/40 (#3)
Good signs: Like many film performers, Winslet cut her acting teeth on stage as a teenager, and she’s been forthcoming that a Broadway appearance is a personal goal. Musical productions aren’t out of the question either – Winslet has been praised for her singing voice and has appeared on several film soundtracks. It seems like only a matter of time before a project materializes.
Problem points: Mainly this preview from an appearance on the Tonight Show. (We kid because we love.)
It’s worth noting that four of the top five contenders seem well positioned to EGOT in the relatively short future. That would increase the size of the exclusive club by 25%. There are a several other short-term potential candidates too: Randy Newman and John Williams need only Tonys (which could come with the inevitable Toy Story and Star Wars musical adaptations); Vanessa Redgrave, Jeremy Irons, Geoffrey Rush, Ellen Burstyn, Frances McDormand, and Helen Mirren could take the audiobook route to a Grammy; songwriter extraordinaire Alan Menken needs only an Emmy which is a mere TV musical away (the pre-recorded kind, we hope); and Cyndi Lauper only needs an Oscar (Kinky Boots film adaptation, anybody?). It’s not likely that all of these awards will come to pass, but it’s remarkable that we stand a reasonable chance for the EGOT club to double in the matter of time it takes to produce these hypothetical (but totally plausible) enterprises.
Our rankings do include some long shots. Al Pacino (#4) is a fine actor, but a Grammy seems like a stretch. Cher (#9) has plans to pen a musical about her life, but she may be too late to the jukebox musical party to turn that into a Tony. The AFAIKEGOTETA also highlights some glaring omissions in our cultural history, like Dick Van Dyke’s (#19) empty Oscar shelf and the fact that Julie Andrews (#22) doesn’t have Tony.
Speaking of Juile Andrews, and as long as we’re entertaining hypothetical projects, let’s revisit Mr. Tony Walton. Walton fell for Andrews as a teenager when he saw her perform as – no joke – the egg in Humpty Dumpty. They were eventually married and had a daughter together. The marriage was dissolved after eight years, but the two remain good friends and professional partners. So Walton has great stage and film success in the underrated roles of art direction and set and costume design, plus a romantic history with one of the world’s most cherished entertainers? It’s autobiography time, Mr. Walton. It’s read-by-the-author audiobook autobiography time, to be specific. We’ll get you that EGOT after all!
Here’s the full leaderboard:
|Rank||EGOT Hopeful||Missing Award||Score|
|19||Dick Van Dyke||Oscar||12.3|
|21||Andrew Lloyd Weber||Emmy||11.2|