The TV Academy probably should take another look at the categories for its Primetime Emmy Awards, academy chairman/CEO Bruce Rosenblum told TV critics this morning at the TCAs summer press tour after TV critics began to flog him and the academy for not doing a better job “policing” which categories series and actors are competing.
TV critics nicked him for a number of this year’s nominees — one TV critic, for instance, noted, “it’s nice Treme got nominated, but it’s in the miniseries category and it’s been on the air about five years.” Another expressed disbelief the academy would let Shameless submit itself for consideration as a comedy series for a season that included a storyline “in which a baby overdoses on cocaine.” And harsh words were said about “certain” actors who’d submitted themselves as guest stars “even though they have regular series contracts.” Plenty more where that came from.
“I wouldn’t refer to it as policing,” Rosenblum said in response to one critic’s suggestion the academy needed to do just that — and with an iron fist, to eliminate all the category rannygazoo. But Rosenblum said, there are “subtle rules” in some categories that “as an organization we probably should take a look at.” Rosenblum noted that, compared to five years ago, there were 40% more drama series submitted for consideration and 60% more comedies.
He insisted that any category re-defining would not be a response to criticism that erupted this season — of which there has been plenty since the nominees were announced last Thursday. He prefers to think of it as being responsive to the way the industry is evolving, adding that the category gaming — our description, not his — is the result of ” so much more production being done around town” that is “unique and varying and doesn’t all fit nicely into clearly defined boxes.”
The answer, he said firmly, is not more categories — this in response to a question as to whether the academy would consider creating a new derby for Drama Series That Have To Churn Out 22 Episodes Per Season — which some believe is the only way a broadcast drama series will ever again snag a Best Series Emmy.
Earlier in the day, NBC chief Bob Greenblatt got asked specifically about broadcast networks’ continued shut-out in the Best Drama Series derby.”I am not going to grouse about the Emmys,” he responded. “Let’s bring back the CableAce Awards — how about that?” he said — which, ironically, is the defunct awards show that many broadcasters complain the Primetime Emmy Awards has, in fact become. “There’s dozens of networks making great shows,” Greenblatt continued. “Do I think The Blacklist should be in that list of dramas? Yes,” he said, adding that series star James Spader should have been nommed for best drama actor. “I don’t think we should change the rules to advantage us in some way,” Greenblatt said, adding, “I don’t honestly know if there is anything we can do but keep doing shows we think are great, and hope we get nominated.”
This year’s Emmy host, Seth Meyers, joked that he tried to submit his NBC late-night series for Emmy consideration as a miniseries. It got a few laughs. Meyers warned he’s going to bring out one or two jokes on Emmy night that are a roll of the dice — like that one, presumably. Meyers does not intend to skewer anyone during his opening monologue, he indicated, because his responsibility is “to be entertaining for three hours in a very old-school way.” This year’s Emmycast Exec Producer, Don Mischer, who’s an old hand at producing trophy shows, said the key to successful Emmy hosting is “to have somebody up there who wants to be there, and loves television, and is completely comfortable to be there.” Meyers, Mischer bragged, “loves television, really knows television, has done a lot of live television.”
Hosting the 2010 and 2011 ESPY Awards and the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner have prepared him for the Primetime Emmy gig, Meyers said. He plans to open with a filmed piece or two, because he can’t sing or dance. One TV critic noted, accurately, that the Emmy’s biggest ratings challenge each year is how many nommed cable shows have not been seen by the vast majority of the country (though that’s becoming increasingly true of broadcast series as well) and wondered if Meyers would spend some time during his opening monologue explaining the best-drama nominees. “I don’t think we’re going to take the burden of responsibility to do any of the explaining,” Meyers replied.
During the Q&A, Rosenblum also defended this year’s Emmy broadcast date — Monday, August 25. He noted the Emmy show has aired on a Monday night in the past. (The last time the Emmy ceremony was held on a Monday was almost 40 years ago, on May 17, 1976.)
Because nothing says “celebration of TV industry” like a Monday in August, NBC and the TV Academy in January said they had picked August 25 as the airdate for this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards. NBC yanking the Emmys out of its traditional night-before-the-start-of-the-TV season berth to make way for the network’s Sunday football package is not news — the network has done it twice already, in 2006 and 2010. Both previous times, NBC aired the trophy show on a Sunday in August. But a Monday in August was news and caused a kerfuffle. Eyebrows were raised until they threatened to disarrange hairlines as the media wondered why a company that had enjoyed recent Emmy success with NBCUniversal-produced Downton Abbey, for instance, would toss the trophy show on a Monday in August.
Mischer said he thinks a Monday in August may be better than a Sunday in August because it’s still summer, and “people are still at the beach.” NBC’s president of alternative and late-night programming Paul Telegdy, who also was up on stage, jumped in to insist the Sunday night before the start of the official TV season — the traditional home of the Emmycast, would still be a great launchpad night for NBC’s new shows, because NBC will air a football game that night — ouch!
Late in the Q&A, Rosenblum got asked about this year’s Daytime Emmy Awards livestream — particularly the red-carpet portion in which celebs were interviewed by four well-known-ish millennial bloggers who used the opportunity to try to hook up with some of the celebs — one rape joke in particular got some notices in reviews of the event. Rosenblum xplained that the Daytime Emmys were put on by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and so it would not be appropriate for him to comment. Undaunted, the critic asked if he was concerned that the show, especially that red-carpet portion, might “tarnish the Emmy brand.” Rosenblum responded diplomatically that his academy “had a mutual conversation with our counterpart and we’re optimistic that situation will not occur next year. ”