Primetime Emmy executive producer Don Mischer expressed some frustration at a TCA session hyping NBC’s 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards telecast: so many awards and so little time. “We’ve got to hand out 27 of them in 2 hours, 6 minutes, and 54 seconds — and we’re already running over,” he said. Mischer was responding to questions about categories already moved from the primetime telecast to the Creative Arts Ceremony eight days before. This includes the top reality host competition as well as writers and directors of comedy, variety and music series. All had been included in 2009 but will now be out of the telecast in favor of writers and directors for specials.
“We also have included the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award for the first time in six years,” Mischer added, “which will take another five minutes during the telecast.” (George Clooney will be receiving it.) Mischer maintained that he and the telecast don’t have nearly as much flexibility as people imagine. “On the longform awards, for example, we didn’t have the option of shifting the writers and directors for contractual reasons. And we really didn’t want to think about taking the made-for-TV movie or miniseries award out. The reality host award was one we didn’t have a commitment to in terms of keeping it in the telecast.”
Both Mischer and TV Academy CEO John Shaffner said they won’t change the plan now in place which rotates in alternate years comedy/variety/music writing and directing with writing and directing for specials. Mischer added that because the Emmys will repeat at 8 PM PT immediately following the live telecast, there’s far greater than usual urgency to bring in the show on time. That will mean less banter between presenters, and fewer presenters period, with many of them doubling up and presenting two categories at a time.
“For the first time I can remember, we didn’t have to play anyone offstage last year,” Mischer said proudly. “We hope we don’t have to play anyone off with music this year, either.” Winners will have an opportunity to continue their speeches on the Internet via a “Thank You Cam” backstage.”
Meanwhile, Emmy host Jimmy Fallon promised the gathered TV critics that he would not try to turn the primetime gig into a version of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. “It’s a much bigger audience, obviously, and a lot more people will hear my type of humor. But it’s not about how much I want to shake up the Emmy broadcast.” He added that the only note he has received so far from NBC is that he had to actually give out awards and vary from just doing schtick. “It’s not about me, it’s a celebration of television,” he stressed.
This year’s Emmys are the last under the Academy’s current “wheel” deal with the broadcast networks. After the TCA panel, Shaffner said talks about a new agreement are still in early stages and for now limited to the Big 4 broadcast nets. But those talks also may be opened to cable outlets if there is interest. A scenario with a single network partner vs. a wheel has been discussed, said Shaffner, who hopes to have a new deal locked in by end of year. Complicating things is the fact that the Emmys are unlike any other awards show, Shaffner said: “It has to belong to everybody.”