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Is ABC fibbing about pitting 'Pirates' vs. Emmys?

August 21, 2006 |  2:16 am


"We had the movie scheduled long before the Emmy nominations were even announced," ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson told Hollywood Reporter scribe Ray Richmond about scheduling "Pirates of the Caribbean" against this Sunday's Emmycast. That is, McPherson insists he didn't park it there to wreak revenge against the TV awards for snubbing "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" after ABC submitted poor episode choices to Emmy judging panels.

However, the L.A. Times reported that ABC announced the movie blockbuster's scheduling on July 21, which was more than two weeks after the Emmy nominations were unveiled on the 6th. Times scribe Greg Braxton relayed the news on July 24 thus: "ABC, which is smarting that many of its most popular shows were overlooked in the marquee categories, announced late Friday that it would broadcast the blockbuster film 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl' to go head to head with the Emmys.

"When asked about ABC's decision and what it could mean for the Emmys audience and NBC's ratings, Jeff Zucker, chief executive of NBC Universal Television Group, said: 'It's more formidable competition, and it's unfortunate.'

"McPherson has been one of the most vocal critics of the new Emmy procedures, telling reporters last week that the lack of major nominations for 'Desperate Housewives' and 'Lost' — both big winners last year — proved that the system this year was flawed." To read the full text of Braxton's article — CLICK HERE.

"Well, McPherson swears it ain't so," Richmond writes at his blog CLICK HERE. "In a conversation this morning, he accused NBC of spinning this in a negative way against both he and ABC (as have I, in the interest of full disclosure), maintaining that this is ABC's second airing of "Pirates" and thus isn't exactly being counted upon to be a viewer juggernaut."

What Richmond refers to above was his July 25th column in the Hollywood Reporter titled "Emmys will walk plank in ABC kudo-night plan" (CLICK HERE!) in which he says that the "Pirates" scheduling "seems to be a petulant reaction from ABC to the network's Emmy snubs this year."

Here at GoldDerby is where Emmycast host Conan O'Brien first let loose against ABC, saying in our podcast chat: "I'm just curious — what about the people at 'Grey's Anatomy'? That's a huge show for ABC. How do they feel about this? Like 'Thanks a lot!'

"I think Mr. McPherson is already regretting what he's done," Conan added. (Read more about Conan's rant — CLICK HERE.)

McPherson told Richmond that he's tried to contact Conan repeatedly, "but he won't return my calls."

So . . . hmmmm . . . what do you think?

Photo: What makes ABC's assertion of innocence so suspicious is that it's suddenly making this claim now, on the eve of the Emmycast, as industry backlash builds against its "Pirates" stab. Why wasn't this mentioned weeks ago when the "Pirates" skedding was announced publicly amidst a barrage of Emmy-bashing from the alphabet net?