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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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The comments to this entry are closed.


The Emmy's get like what, 10 million or so viewers on network tv? That is usually how many people watched the finale of Sex and the City and The Sopranos on HBO. This whole less views on cable is hububablo.

TV is TV and makes enormous amounts of money from advertising dollars as it always has.
We should not have to pay for it, cable or no cable, which is why I don't have or watch a TV or buy magazines, and I don't need to worry about who airs the Emmy awards which only represents more advertising dollars.

I think it would be funny if HBO or Showtime buy the emmy's. I've got HBO and showtime, so i'd be all for it.

The networks are like little children who don't get their way, "Oh, we don't make tv movies or mini-series so get rid of those awards". They sure wouldn't support a move if people had said, "Oh, we don't produce any comedy shows so get rid of those" or "Oh, we don't produce any drama shows so get rid of those". If they don't want to sit and watch HBO win all those awards then either make some movies of your own or just shut up. Get in the race or just sit and watch it from the sidelines.

Yes! Why should I have to sit through an extra hour of awards for films I don't watch? Unless you have HBO, the chances you have seen a majority of these nominees is slim to none.

There are 24 Oscars given out, and fewer than ten of those awards mean anything to the mass audience -- most people don't even know what film editing and art direction are. You could trim the Oscars down to an hour and a half if you applied the same stupid logic that the Networks want to apply to the Emmy Awards.

The networks quit making movies and miniseries: That's their problem. They don't want to promo cable and pay-cable by rewarding stars/writers/directors, then they should compete. Focus Features isn't going to ever win the Visual Effects Award, you don't hear them complaining that the award is given out.

The show takes three hours, to honor a year of television, countless hours of original episodes. It's not that long. Rather than strive for ratings through drastic changes, ignore the critics and keep making a quality broadcast like this year's.

I'll repeat what I said in the forums: It's a TV awards show. It's not cable's fault that the networks have essentially abandoned miniseries and TV movies. The networks are whining. The Academy should tell 'em to get over it.

That being said, it couldn't hurt to try an experiment for a year or two. For a couple of years, PBS ran an hourlong "pre-show" prior to the network telecast of the Tony Awards. Mostly tech categories and special achievement awards were given out. No commercials and the winners had a chance to speak at length.

Something like that could make for a decent compromise. Open up the telecast (so anyone can watch) on AMC, for example, or HBO, for an hour prior to the network telecast. Give out all of the longform awards during that hour.

Then all the whineypants network execs can go drink in the lobby while those awards are being handed out.

Personally I think expanding the wheel to include cable networks is a good thing. I can see TNT, USA or AMC hosting the Emmys. Many of these cable networks are broading their schedules with new original programming and looking more and more like a broadcast network.

I definitely would rather the cable shows be excluded. It's unfair and annoying because alot of people live on a budget, like myself, and we don't have HBO, and honestly I would rather spend my money on better things.

I think more people are interested in the regular "series" awards (even though a series is sometimes only 8 episodes), and those awards should be presented toward the end of the show and give out the mini-series (all 2 nominees this year) and made-for-tv movies earlier in the evening.

And, of course, NEVER allow FOX to host it again. (or any "reality show" hosts).

I think more people are interested in the regular "series" awards (even though a series is sometimes only 8 episodes), and those awards should be presented toward the end of the show and give out the mini-series (all 2 nominees this year) and made-for-tv movies earlier in the evening.

And, of course, NEVER allow FOX to host it again. (or any "reality show" hosts).

I can well understand why the networks are POd. Cable has an unfair advantage when it comes to their shows. They have more freedom to show what they want. eg: more violence., language content, adult content. Networks can not do that. Do you think Mad Men would of won best drama last 3 years if it was on one of the networks? I dont think so. I really belive the EMMYs should have seperate catagories for cable and network shows. Because if not, cable is always going to win out . If so then they should be the ones showing the telecast!

Yawn. Makes me glad I don't own a TV.

Speaking for myself, I don't watch the emmys to see movie stars, I watch for the TV stars. I find the movie/mini race to just be a drag on the whole show and just flat out boring.

Tom, a correction: The nets won two of the big six awards: Jim Parsons won and Modern Family won. I know it's easy to overlook Parsons, he's not funny.



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