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Should the Emmys move to cable TV? Or create a spin-off awards show?

August 31, 2010 |  4:12 pm

TV academy chiefs and network execs are having heated talks behind closed doors right now while trying to hammer out the Emmys' future. Will the awardcast still be aired according to a four-network wheel deal involving ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox? Or should the scrappy cable networks that win top awards like AMC ("Mad Men," "Breaking Bad"), Showtime ("Nurse Jackie") and HBO (all movie/mini races) be included too?

Mad men emmys news-4

After all, fairness should be an issue. The Emmys show is TV's annual family reunion. Even if family members aren't as big as NBC or CBS, shouldn't they be able to host the family party if they're worthy and willing to pay the license fee? That fee is currently at $7.5 million, probably jumping to $10 million soon.

HBO's dominance of all eight movie/mini races this year (and practically every year) creates another problem. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox no longer produce movies and minis. Few networks beyond HBO and Lifetime do. Should those races be removed from the main Emmycast and shuttled off to the Creative Arts Awards ceremony or even a new separate Emmycast?

Variety reports that Emmy chiefs are considering "launching a new long-form awards show, which could be telecast on HBO or another cabler …  It's no secret that the Big Four broadcast networks, which take turns televising the Emmys, are itching to kick the long-form categories out of the live telecast."

Even if TV academy chiefs and network leaders agree to boot the long-form races from the main Emmycast, they may not be able to do so. The academy has firm contractual agreements with the guilds (producers, writers, directors, actors, etc.) that give the TV academy permission to air clips from nominees' programs during the Emmycast. The guilds won't easily OK a deal that throws their most prominent members off the main Emmys show just because broadcast TV execs don't want to sit through awards for which they no longer compete.

Currently, there are 27 awards bestowed on the Emmycast. Sure, it would be nice to cut a few out, but the current set-up has worked fine for decades. Why change it?

Besides, if you boot out the movie/mini races, you'll be throwing out some of the most glittering celebrity contenders who Emmycast viewers want to see. This year they included Claire Danes ("Temple Grandin"), Jeff Bridges ("A Dog Year"), Ian McKellen ("The Prisoner"), Dennis Quaid ("The Special Relationship"), Al Pacino ("You Don't Know Jack"), Kathy Bates ("Alice"), Susan Sarandon ("You Don't Know Jack") and Patrick Stewart ("Hamlet").

How many of them would've stayed home this year if their awards were bestowed one week earlier at the Creative Arts ceremony, which isn't aired on broadcast TV?

Broadcast TV rallied this year in the series races with the romp by "Modern Family," but they still lost five of the six major series categories (drama series and lead acting in drama and comedy) to cable shows. Broadcast TV has been faring so poorly in recent years that the Paley Center plans to launch rival TV awards based in New York in 2012. Read more here.

Below: Chris "Boomer" Beachum, Rob Licuria (AwardsHeaven) and I pipe in.

Photo: AMC

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