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Why don't the Grammys ever win a top Emmy?

June 22, 2011 |  8:00 am

"Why don't the Grammys ever win a top Emmy?" a veteran Emmy watcher asked me recently. "Every year they win Emmys in the crafts categories for things like sound mixing and lighting direction, which proves that it's an award-worthy show, but the Grammys never win best variety special or special class — the top program award. That usually goes to the Tonys or the Oscars. The Grammys don't even get nominated. Why?"

GrammmyFascinating question! Certainly, the Grammys are a spectacular awards show, packed with high energy, technical dazzle (spinning lights and stages) and powerhouse performances by music legends at the top of their game. As a physical production, the Grammys are far more ambitious and complicated than the Oscars or Tonys and, as a show, it's usually much more exciting. So why is it the only major award show not nominated by the Emmys in the top race? Heck, even the Golden Globes telecast — which doesn't even have production numbers — was nominated in recent years (2007 — when it didn't even have a host).

I posted the question in our message boards to see what comments it would generate. I agree with the frequently expressed opinion that the Grammys are penalized for no longer being an award show. Years ago, there used to be more awards presented on the ceremony than music numbers staged. Then, about 10 years ago, there were roughly the same (about 16). Now there are fewer than a dozen awards bestowed. The Grammys exist chiefly as a music variety special — a superb one, mind you — but it's a cheat nowadays, and voters at the TV academy, who take their awards very seriously, refuse to give the show Emmys above the crafts races.

Below are some comments from our forums. See more here.

AwardsMadness101: It's my least favorite awards show of the year. I tune in to see the best of the best honored. Instead, I'm given a slew of performances with a few awards thrown in.

Turtle: it's likely the main reason the Grammys aren't considered is that it's basically a concert designed to hawk product with awards an afterthought.

rcamp: Look at the way the Grammys cut their award lists this year. Do you really think they care about winning awards?

Duncan: Instead of it being a Who's Who of the music industry to Emmy voters, it's more of a Who's That? to them. They couldn't remember half of the people who perform on that telecast. Believe it or not, when the Rap, Hip Hop & Pop artist perform most of the voters change the channel! The artist who are the most popular and have sold the most CDs that particular year are the ones who perform on the show. They usual appeal to the under 21 crowd. Most Emmy voters are over 30.

— Tom O'Neil

Photo: National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences