Broadcasting the Primetime Emmy Awards may seem a thankless task for the broadcast networks that take turns airing the ceremony. The license fee is pretty stiff, considering it’s a three-hour infomercial for the basic and premium cable networks (and now, Netflix) that have siphoned off a good chunk of their audience. Cable networks long ago took over the Emmy longform derbies, then they took over the best-drama derby, and now they’re moving in on comedy. CBS can expect to make a few million on the show, after factoring in the cost of production, etc. And, yes, it’s still a good platform for launching its new TV season, which officially starts the next night — not to mention the in-show plugs, like this year’s host Neil Patrick Harris, who’s the star of CBS’s How I Met Your Mother. And Allison Janney and Anna Faris are among this year’s lineup of notable female TV duos who are presenting — only because they star in the new CBS comedy series Mom. The other duos are far more newsworthy: Kerry Washington and Diahann Carroll are, respectively, the first African-American in nearly two decades to be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and the actress who broke color barriers when she starred in the 1968 series Julia; Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are the reigning TV-comedy co-queens; Zooey and Emily Deschanel are the Barrymores of Fox.
Still, the Emmy Awards ranks high on the Aggravation-o-Meter at times for the broadcast host. For instance, when the Academy decides to have Netflix’s House Of Cards star Kate Mara read off the names of nominees in July. As luck would have it, Mara’s plane had a mechanical malfunction, so she had to bail, and Harris stepped in — CBS plug!
Or, take this morning. The TV Academy named eight more presenters for this year’s Emmy ceremony, noting that Andre Braugher stars in the “highly anticipated” Fox comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But in describing presenters Will Arnett and Margo Martindale, who are starring in a new CBS comedy series, their show was not described as “highly anticipated” — just “CBS’ The Millers.” Oh, and the other presenters named today — each of whom has a role on a non-CBS series? They’re all described as starring in a “hit”:
* Bryan Cranston, star of the hit AMC series Breaking Bad
* Jimmy Kimmel, host of ABC’s hit late-night series Jimmy Kimmel Live!
And so on.
In the whole list of additional presenters announced today, no one’s “hit”-less or “highly anticipated”-less, except the two CBS stars — and Alec Baldwin, because 30 Rock has ended its run, and even the TV Academy doesn’t have the chutzpah to call Baldwin’s new weekly MSNBC show Up Late With Alec Baldwin a hit before it has debuted.
So, in its version of today’s presenters announcement, CBS expunged all those “hits” from the list and elaborated on the Academy’s description of Martindale, noting she is nominated this year for her role in The Americans, on FX. The Academy did not spell that out.