EMMYS: Additional In Memoriam Tributes Aim To Keep Viewers Interested

With trophy shows so dull these days — owing in large measure to the current trend toward laundry-list acceptance speeches delivered by Hollywood luminaries more frightened of forgetting to thank their agent, manager, publicist and spouse than of boring to death tens of millions of viewers — the broadcasting networks struggle to find ways to make sure the gowns are not the most interesting part of the broadcast. This morning, CBS and the TV Academy announced that, in addition to what has become the traditional In Memoriam segment, this weekend’s Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast will also include special tributes to recently deceased industry figures. For better or worse, death does well at trophy shows because viewers will pick watching beautifully decked-out celebrities having an actual genuine moment over beautifully decked-out celebrities thanking agents and lawyers any day. LL Cool J’s heartfelt prayer for the Whitney Houston — who had died the day before — followed by Jennifer Hudson’s moving performance of Houston signature song “I Will Always Love You” sent the 2012 Grammycast skyrocketing in the ratings, also on CBS.

Related: EMMYS: Expanded Tributes Set For Gandolfini, Monteith, Others

Sadly, death has been a big story in the TV industry since the last Emmy ceremony, including the unexpected deaths of James Gandolfini and Cory Monteith. In Sunday’s special tributes, Edie Falco will remember her Sopranos co-star and Jane Lynch will remember her Glee colleague. Michael J. Fox, starring in a new NBC comedy, will pay tribute to Family Ties producer Gary David Goldberg. Robin Williams, starring in a new CBS comedy, will remember friend/mentor Jonathan Winters, and Rob Reiner will fete his longtime All In The Family castmate Jean Stapleton.

CBS did not say today how it planned to make room for the additional tributes. It’s not expected the Emmy producers will make room by enforcing the controversial 45-second restriction placed on Emmy winners during last night’s Creative Arts awards handout. “You have 45 seconds to get from your seat all the way down the aisle, up the steps, and do your acceptance speech,” Creative Arts Emmys producer Spike Jones Jr had warned sternly, just before the beginning of the ceremony, adding, “I’m not kidding.” That said he did make exception for Bob Newhart when he finally won an Emmy after seven nominations over several decades, figuring, correctly, it would be a speech worth hearing. That said, CBS has had great success over the years transforming the Grammy Awards into a trophy show in which a mere 10-ish awards are handed out — less than half the number to be handed out at this weekend’s Primetime Emmys. This has made room during the Grammy broadcast for loads of viewer-pleasing music performances, in memoriam specials, etc., and drastically cut the number of boring acceptance speeches, which do so much to convince viewers the show belongs on their Life Is Too Short List.

The last time CBS tried to inject additional material into the Emmy broadcast it exploded in the network’s eye. In 2009, the network and that year’s producer Don Mischer got the TV Academy’s blessing to tape in advance eight of that year’s 28 derbies, edited out the boring bits and air them during the live ceremony. An estimated 15 minutes could be saved, which would be used “to make the Emmys more relevant to mainstream viewers,” as Mischer explained it to TV critics which, in round numbers, meant he planned to add live performances that might attract viewers to the ratings-hungry trophy show (only 12.2 million people had bothered to watch the Emmycast the previous year, which was an all-time low). The time-shifting plan died when guilds suggested the concept breached their deals with the academy granting it the use of show clips for free in exchange for the promise that when their members pick up their trophies, it will be telecast live as part of each Primetime Emmy Awards telecast.

That year, like this, CBS sitcom star Neil Patrick Harris was host.

  1. I watch awards shows to hear acceptance speeches and awards handed out, I don’t want awards shows to turn into the Grammys.

  2. always like the tributes – just hopefully they won’t eliminate names who deserve a mention, as the Oscars do “due to lack of time”

  3. the “In Memoriam” segment is absurd, just like every other aspect of the Awards shows. You’re deluded if you think Cory Monteith contributed more to TV than Mel Smith or Huell Howser, both of whom died in 2013 and both of whom might be omitted. And by the way, Bob Newhart just won his FIRST Emmy. Years & years of undeserved winners and then finally they throw him a bone because “oops, I guess we weren’t very good judges of talent.” The solution to this problem is less talk about award shows and accolades in general and more focus on quality of the artistry.

  4. Cut back on the extragavanza & speak the speech — memorialize the dead with respect, please — leave the musical numbers to the Tonys & Oscars.

  5. You know if the Emmy Awards did a 1/2 – 1 hour tribute each year for the people that were lost it would be a nice way to celebrate the talents of those who are no longer here. It would also draw a huge audience because marketing would be easier. Just think
    One add ” The Cast of Glee Pays tribute to Corey Monteith on this years Emmy Award” Sunday Night on CBS

    Add 2 “Cast of the Sopranos reunite to pay tribute to James Gandolfini” on Emmy awards CBS Sunday”

    Go for it Emmy Board Its exploiting the deaths of these people however fans of these people can have a since of paying respect in this mini memorial service

  6. The Emmys are irrelevant to younger viewers so including Cory Monteith makes sense. Now if they could only think of something clever to interest the older demo.

  7. Let’s be brutally honest. I know this isn’t PC but…why do a special memorial for a guy who nobody ever heard of before he became just one guy in a show with a huge ensemble cast, and then he overdosed himself. I’m sure he was a nice guy and kind of talented, but not really in the same league as other people who passed this year who aren’t getting a special tribute. Its disrespectful to the people who really deserve recognition. It’s the second worst Emmy idea after having Gilbert Gottfried as a presenter.

  8. I hope the TV Academy and the producers of the Emmys are reading these comments. Get it thru your heads, listen to what the people want to watch. It’s NOT more musical tributes. Enough already or do you want the numbers to continually go down more. Let Neil Patrick Harris do his great big opening musical number and then that’s it. The speeches are important and what we watch for. The memoriams should include not just the big stars that died, but others who’ve spent their life in the business. Get it together.

  9. Honoring Monolith specifically is ridiculous. It’s not like it was some unavoidable tragic death. Sorry to be so harsh, but it’s the truth. He was 1 of many leads in an ensemble show that has a large but niche audience and was unwatchably bad half the time, and he has never done anything but that show (and wasn’t even the most talented young person on there, though always nice to watch). So it’s not even like Heath who proved himself many times as an incredible young talent.

    I just can’t understand who is pushing for this and who is approving it. It’s not like it’s airing on FOX. Where is this edict coming down from? It’s not as if he died yesterday either… this will sound really harsh, but outside of the Glee fans (and of course his friends and family, to whom my heart goes out for their loss), I think everyone else has moved on. And it’s not that he doesn’t deserved to be mourned or celebrated or remembered, but he doesn’t deserve to be honored over the other people who died this year, most (if not all) of whom contributed far more to TV than he was able to.

    He was a nice performer on one show who, during his few years on tv, meant a lot of a fairly small number of people. That is special, but it’s disrespectful to ignore others in favor of honoring him.

    Sorry to say.

  10. I love when they leave the audience audio up during the In Memoriams. If the deceased is popular, they get applauded. If the deceased is unknown to most, or not that popular, the audio, clapping drops to nothing. “we didn’t ever hear of that person” Cruel, sad, and, uninspiring. Leave the audience audio off.

  11. Bad enough we have to have a tribute to Monteith, but have to endure the over exposed, I’ll do anything for attention Jane Lynch. And how did she get nominated anyways?

  12. Corey Monteith? Deserving of extra special recognition? Please, what a joke, Emmy producers. His “career” is about five years in length (including post-mortem films). What, no one at the Emmys ever heard of Larry Hagman, a guy with a 50+ year career???

  13. Add me to the chorus of people on this and many other sites that is appalled at the “singling out” of certain people in the “In Memoriam” segment. It is simply ridiculous to say one person is more important than another. This is simply a ratings grab in the case of Cory Monteith.

    IF they want to single people out I am reasonably ok with some individuals who have had a long distinguished career…Stapleton, Goldberg, Gandolfini, etc. But to single out a youngster who was on a single show for only 4 years? A youngster that sad as it was basically killed himself with illegal drugs? It is simply not right

    How about honoring Larry Hagman for his legacy of 2 universally beloved shows and 50 year career? That would be much more appropriate.

  14. How can CBS air the Emmy Awards, ask for special extended memorial tributes, and then not have one for Larry Hagman? Hagman was only one of CBS’ biggest stars EVER! What, is CBS afraid to promote TNT’s “Dallas” or something? How about Jack Klugman? Hagman starred in two beloved series, “I Dream Of Jeannie” and “Dallas;” Klugman starred in two beloved series, “The Odd Couple” and “Quincy, M.E.,” not to mention both actors stellar dramatic guest appearances during the 1950′s, 1960′s, 1970′s, 1980′s, 1990′s, and 2000′s. What is the Television Academy thinking? Hagman and Klugman’s work will still be viewed and admired decades from now. Can the same be said for the poor soul who overdosed?

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