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The mystery behind that weird 'special class' Emmy exposed

June 12, 2008 | 10:05 am

Dig in for a heaping serving of this year's Emmy leftovers — stick your fork in here. These are the shows that don't follow traditional recipes, so there's no category for them, and they're tossed into that slop bucket for everything else called "special class."

As per the rules, these shows fall under Area 73 as follows: "Special Class is an area award for programming that does not fit into any other program category/area. It does not include any program entry that has multiple eligibility, e.g., a program that has both Variety, Music or Comedy and nonfiction elements may choose one or the other, but not Special Class. "


Last year, the nominees for outstanding special class program were three award shows (the Golden Globes, the Oscars and the Tonys), one faux kudocast ("Jerry Seinfeld – The Comedian Award"), and the Super Bowl halftime show. The 60th anniversary of the Tony Awards won this race for the third time having earned the honors in 1980 and 1989. As this category has come and gone over the years, award shows have sometimes competed for outstanding variety, music or comedy special. The Tony Awards won that category in 1987, 1998, 1999, and 2005.

This year, the Emmy Awards will have five sub-categories for special class though, as the rules note, "there is a possibility of one, more than one or no awards in each sub-category. "

The first sub-category is "awards programs" and there are 17 entries. It seems that the only kudos not competing for this honor are the Emmy Awards themselves which took themselves out of the running years ago.

Along with the usual suspects — the Oscars, Grammys, Tonys, Golden Globes, SAG and Indie Spirits — there are three Spanish language festivities (Latin Grammys, Premio Lo Nuestro and Premios Juventud), the ESPYs honoring sports stars and the Kids Choice Awards. And then there are the outliers –- CNN's tribute to heroes, MTV's salute to 20 seasons of "The Real World" and the World Magic Awards.

The second sub-category is quite a mouthful -– "not-exclusively-made-for television variety, music, comedy event." In other words, that rarity in Hollywood –- an entertainment event that would go on even if the cameras weren't there. Of the eight entries, six are musical concerts by Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Martina McBride, Paul McCartney, Rob Thomas and Steve Earle, and the others are a Broadway show ("Company") and a Kennedy Center tribute to Billy Crystal.

The third subcategory is "classical music/dance programs" and of the dozen programs competing, eight originated at New York City's Lincoln Center while the ninth is a concert by Center resident New York Philharmonic in North Korea and the 10th takes place partly at the Metropolitan Opera ("Maestro"). The other two programs come from Carnegie Hall and L.A. Opera (though the latter features a host of Broadway talent including Audra McDonald and Patti Lupone).

The fourth sub-category is "short-format live-action entertainment programs," and it has 70 entries. Among the highlights are eight programs derived from TV series:


"Battlestar Galactica – Razor Featurette No. 4"
"Friday Night Lights: Spotlight on Austin"
"Heroes: Takezo Kensei, Sword Saint"
"Lost: Missing Pieces"
"The Riches 'Get Rich Quick' " original webisodes
"Reno 911!: Cop Psychology"
"Sarah Silverman Program Nugget"
"30 Rock: Kenneth the Web Page"

As well, there are three cyber sensations — "Bathing with Bierko," "Harry Shearer: Found Objects" and "Lonelygirl15" — as well as the most recent "Super Bowl Halftime Show."

Finally, the fifth sub-category is "short-format nonfiction programs" which has 28 entries including three spin-offs from TV shows - "Dancing with the Stars: Online Encore," "Deal or No Deal: Road Trip," and "Jay Leno's Garage." And my favorite of all 135 entries in special class is found in this sub-category --"1200lbs of Cheese Carved into the Statue of Liberty."