Emmy producer defends 'time shifting' plan

Arguing that “we are trying to keep the Emmys alive as a major television event,” Executive Producer Don Mischer outlined plans today to streamline the Sept. 20 telecast on CBS. Mischer told reporters at the Television Critics Association tour in Pasadena that he’ll pre-tape eight categories during the ceremony — two for writing, two for acting, two for producing and two for directing. By pre-taping the categories, Mischer says he can edit down the time it takes for the recipients to leave their seats, walk to the stage and, in some cases, thank a bevy of lawyers and agents — thus saving precious (see: boring) minutes in the telecast. That saved time, he added, will be used to showcase more of TV’s best programming from the year. To help illustrate his point, Mischer showed critics and reporters an edited version of one award from last year’s ceremony, which looked almost indistinguishable from a typical live ceremony. “We are trying to do this very dignified,” explained Mischer, adding that even with the edited awards, “there will be presenters and there will be nominees listed and there will be walk-ups.”

Hours before Mischer spoke to reporters, the Writers Guild sent a protest letter from more than 150 showrunners in opposition to the proposed changes. Signed by top-tier executive producers like Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives), Carol Mendelsohn (CSI) and Matthew Weiner (Mad Men), the letter argued that the decision “conveys a fundamental understatement of the importance of writers in the creation of television programming and a symbolic attack on the primacy of writing in our industry.”

Mischer said changes are needed because the Television Academy’s research shows that potential viewers aren’t watching because there is a perception that the Emmy telecast focuses on series that “mainstream viewers did not know and were not interested in.”

“What we need is to make the show more about broadcasting and less about narrowcasting,” he added.

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  • Scott

    I agree writers are important – of course they are – but they are also boring. It’s not like they’re not getting their awards. If it were up to me they would only screen acting and best film at the Oscars too. Everyone who attends the awards gets to see, but the people at home don’t need to.

    • David

      yes, but what about the millions of people like myself who ARE interested in seeing the entire broadcast – with every person winning their respective awards?

      • Sara

        Millions of people? Are you kidding? I’m pretty sure the ratings are bad already because award shows are soooo long. Who cares about these mini-series movies? Senior citizens that sit at home and watch them, maybe.

        I hope this means a more flashy, fun-filled award show. This may be the best Emmy’s ever.

  • mscisluv

    “Mischer said changes are needed because the Television Academy’s research shows that potential viewers aren’t watching because there is a perception that the Emmy telecast focuses on series that “mainstream viewers did not know and were not interested in.”” I agree that this is a problem, but I don’t see how pretaping awards is going to help. What is needed is to actually nominate relevant shows in each category, as well as to place a limit on how many times a single actor can be nominated for the same category (i.e. Tony Shaloub).

    • RayT

      Amen to banning Tony Shaloub! Also add James Spader and William Shatner to the banned list. Spader beating Gandolfini for Best Actor in the final year of The Sopranos remains the most glaring example of how inane Emmy voters can be.

      • Tim Tim

        I thought Gandolfinia was great. He always has been,but don’t put down Spader. That guy can act and his character was great. It’s funny how people put down Spader and Shatner and never watched the show.

      • Amy

        Or, IMHO… how INTELLIGENT they can be! Yeah, yeah … Sopranos was good for awhile but got thoroughly depressing over the last season especially.

        Spader always made me laugh, which is always a good thing!
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  • John

    Look, as flawed as Emmy-nominating is, it is still nominating within a narrow demographic – quality TV. Quality TV is also getting snubbed, no doubt, but unless you make the show less about honoring great stuff and more about selling popular crap, that schism will remain. Middle America doesn’t watch Mad Men and 30 Rock, but that doesn’t change that these are the top contenders and rightfully so.

    Incidentally, they tried this at the Tony Awards this year, too, cutting the scripting categories and putting in feature spots for touring shows (btw, the touring performances sucked all kinds of large). But ratings were up, mostly because of NPH. I’m probably gonna watch the Emmys because of him, too, cuz as much as I disagree with these changes, I want this talented man’s stint to be successful and reflected in the numbers. Plus I think he could score the “hat trick” and get the Oscars. I just hate that the producers are using NPH’s popularity to mask their evil revisionism.

  • GOB

    John – not sure what you consider “middle America,” but I live in the Midwest and I watch both Mad Men and 30 Rock. I also watch Lost, Damages, Dexter, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and many other shows that you probably think are made for people in the big city. What I DON’T watch is reality TV and garbage like According to Jim. Next time you decide to speak for the entire country, please reconsider.

  • Rebecca

    The emmy ratings are not down because of the time it takes to present and accept awards. The ratings are down because of the choice of hosts over the last few years. Ryan Seacrest was abysmal, and last year’s attempt to have five hosts was just a debacle. The ratings will be up this year for one reason only, and that is NPH. But, he won’t get to take the credit for the ratings bump if they change the format at the same time.

  • Kath

    EMMYs are a joke anyway!! and totally unfair. Cable and network TV should not be competing against each other, because they a different mediums. They should cut out some EMMYs that I just do not understand, I mean whats the point of an EMMY for guest staring on a show? Put these awards on a more even playing ground and then I might watch them!

  • AK

    You don’t see the hairstylists complaining and ZERO of their awards are broadcast. As with the Grammys, when you have 10,000 awards to give out each year, you can only show so many. Obviously, a shorter show is better, and showing more interesting awards (i.e. ones where 80% of the nominees are not from the same show) is too.

  • Sara

    I hope this means we are getting to see clips from the acting categories. That used to be my favorite part of award shows, and it’s disappointing how they’ve taken that away.

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