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Emmy producer defends pre-taping eight awards - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 3rd 2009 9:55PM
Emmmy presentation at the TCAsThe final panel of CBS's day was for the 61st Annual Emmy Awards, which the network is broadcasting. Given the controversy over the news that the academy is going to pre-tape eight awards before the main ceremony goes live and play edited versions of the presentations during the show, it promised to be a bit of an inquisition. In fact, it was such a hot topic that show producer Don Mischer was more sought after for answers than host Neil Patrick Harris, who appeared via satellite from Montreal.

Mischer showed us what he had in mind, culled from a presentation from last year's low-rated ceremony. Essentially, he trimmed the reading of the nominees, then cut a lot of the walk-up to the podium, the hugs and kisses, and some of the winner's speech. But, it seemed to keep the essence of the speech intact. Yes, I'm sure those people who are being edited might not feel that way. But Mischer has a pretty legitimate reason why he and the Academy are doing this: They need to make the broadcast more accessible.

After last year's dismal ratings, a market study was done, according to Mischer. "The key finding was that potential viewers were not tuning in because the Emmys were featuring shows that mainstream audiences did not know and were not interested in." The research did not ask the respondents about specific shows, but Mischer did admit later on that "of the twelve most-watched shows on American TV, two awards were given in primetime."

In essence, according to Mischer, "We want to make (the show) about broadcasting, not narrow casting."

So what they'll be doing is giving away two writing, two producing, two acting, and two directing awards in the pre-taped portion in order to spread the wealth. No word as yet as to what categories are going to get moved.

Mischer made a bit of a weak argument about pre-taping, though, by citing the fact that the Super Bowl halftime show gets delayed for fifteen seconds to guard against "wardrobe malfunctions," and that most award ceremonies are time-shifted to air at a reasonable time in the West. There was some grumbling from the critics when he said that, mainly because we know he knows that's not the same thing.

Even NPH was moved to defend the pre-taping movement: "We're trying to edit the standing and the hugging and the walking down the aisle."

NPH did bring the funny in his brief moments. Even though he couldn't see us from Montreal, he made an effort to comically look in the direction of any critic who told the gentlemen on stage where they were. And, just like anyone who's had to deal with the delay in a satellite interview, he said, "I feel like I'm in Bangladesh. I'm in Canada. I think it's retribution for all the How I Met Your Mother Canada jokes."

The Emmys go up against a Sunday night NFL game -- Giants-Cowboys, the first one from the new Cowboys Stadium. Academy chairman John Shaffner suggested we "time-shift" the game in order to watch the Emmys. Um... thanks, John, but no thanks. It doesn't matter what they do; the Emmys are always going to lose against football in my book, and I think in a lot of people's books.

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