Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
Jane Lynch said that executive producer Mark Burnett surprised her on the plane back to L.A. from the TV upfronts in New York earlier this year by asking her to save a place on her dance card to host the 2011 Emmys. Burnett, the reality kingpin behind Survivor and The Voice, told her he didn’t have the authority to actually offer her the job, but she said yes on the spot. Lynch, an Emmy winner herself for Glee, has already poked fun at her upcoming hosting role Sept. 18 with TV spots in which she admits to saying to producers upon being asked: “You know I’m not Ellen DeGeneres, don’t you?”
On today’s lively panel with Lynch, Burnett and John Shaffner, chairman and CEO of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Lynch said she would be sitting in the writers’ room throughout the development of the awards telecast (her friend Jill Soloway will be among the writers group). Of live hosting duties, Lynch said she brings “the necessary energetic cocktail of excitement, anticipation and fear.” And both she and Burnett say that viewers will be seeing Jane Lynch, not a version of her Glee character, no-nonsense coach Sue Sylvester, which Lynch used in her emcee duties at the Fox upfronts the last 2 years. “A little Sue Sylvester goes a long way,” she said. “We will probably leave her track suit on the Paramount lot.” She also said she hopes to avoid classic awards show disasters such as Rob Lowe’s Snow White number on the Academy Awards. For his part, first-time Emmy producer Burnett says he will use his reality TV experience to keep the show’s pacing clipping right along. “The most important thing, [because] the Emmys are three hours long, is pacing,” saying there would be a lot of comic bits to keep things moving along.”
Well, it wasn’t intended as a comic bit – but Burnett drew a laugh when he said he was going to handle the usually somber “In Memoriam” section recapping TV celebrity deaths in a different way. It doesn’t have to be a bummer,” he said – quickly de-fusing the guffaws from the audience by saying: “It can be a celebration of what’s left behind…when you are gone, we can still enjoy your work. [You can make] different choices in tonality…you can be sad about it, or uplifted by what they left behind.”