Are the Emmys really threatened by the new Paley Center Awards?
Don't believe the bluster that the Paley Center for Media's new TV awards, set to launch in May 2012, will be a serious rival to Emmy Awards.
That's what wags said when ABC launched the American Television Awards in 1994 to take Emmy down. Instead, the American Television Awards went to a quick grave.
That's what wags said when the Cable ACE Awards started in 1979. Those Aces folded two decades later.
That's what wags said when TV Guide launched its own awards twice — in the 1950s and again in the 1980s — flopping fast both times.
The Emmys are safe for now because they're the Oscars of TV. They're peer-group prizes bestowed by television industry insiders. The Paley Center won't copy that. Its leaders say the kudos "will engage the public in the selection process." That sounds like they'll be copying the People's Choice Awards, doesn't it? Who cares about those?
The thrust behind the creation of these new tube awards seems to be sour grapes over broadcast TV losing to cable networks like AMC ("Mad Men"), Showtime ("Nurse Jackie") and Comedy Central ("The Daily Show"). By pandering to the public, the awards will no doubt favor cop shows and cheesy sitcoms that score towering Nielsens, but industry insiders (Emmy voters) and TV critics won't be fooled. There's a very good reason that those shows get snubbed by Emmy: They don't deserve to win. It's nice that the Paley Center will give them consolation prizes, though.
Photo: National Cable Television Assn.