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TV academy drops plan to change Emmy format

August 12, 2009 | 12:44 pm

After backlash from the creative community, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is dropping a plan to pretape and truncate the presentation of eight award categories during next month’s Emmy ceremony.

"This decision was made to mend relationships within the television community and to allow executive producer Don Mischer to focus his full attention on producing the creative elements in the telecast," said television academy Chairman-CEO John Shaffner in a statement this afternoon. "Our goal is to celebrate the year in television, honor excellence and this year's great achievements with the support of our industry colleagues and our telecast partner, CBS."

The academy’s reversal upends its effort to inject more entertainment into the Sept. 20 telecast. Last month, the academy said that it was going to announce the winners of many of the movie and miniseries categories 45 minutes before the Emmy broadcast begins at 5 p.m. PDT, allowing producers to air edited versions of their acceptance speeches later in the program. Producers said that would free up time in the telecast to highlight shows such as "American Idol" that attract large viewership but little critical acclaim.

"We're trying to make the Emmys more relevant to mainstream viewers, while honoring the choices of the television academy properly and respectfully," Mischer said at the time.

CBS and the academy hoped the move would help broaden the audience for the Emmys, which last year drew one of its smallest audiences in two decades. A record low number of 18-to-49-year-olds watched the program.

But the Hollywood guilds strenuously objected to the idea, particularly the industry’s writers, who complained that their work would be shortchanged. And HBO, which has 18 nominations in the eight categories that Mischer proposed to pretape, complained that the maneuver would give short shrift to quality cable programming.

-- Matea Gold