General News

Deciding the fate of the Emmys

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Oct 09, 2001 | 10:00am EDT

CBS officials and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences met Monday to discuss options for staging this year's Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony in the wake of Sunday's last minute cancellation of the show due to the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan.

According to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, the network and the academy were said to be trying to pull together a scaled-back ceremony that would be taped for broadcast at a later time. It was also unlikely the show would include a live audience.

"We all realize that the idea of a live audience at the Shrine is probably not viable any longer," Bryce Zabel, chairman and CEO of the ATAS said to The Reporter. "On the other hand, CBS still wants to put something on and we still want to give out the Emmys. Within that framework, there are a lot of alternatives."

ATAS president Jim Chapin told Reuters, "Obviously people want the awards to be given out. Whether that's a private dinner or a press conference or something else, I think there seems to be some sort of ritual and ceremony where we honor these people for their achievements."

Zabel said the two groups, in consultation with Emmy telecast executive producer Don Mischer, hoped to reach a final decision on the fate of the show by the end of the week.

The cancellation of the televised show may prove to be too costly. CBS paid $3 million for broadcast rights to the three-hour show and would have made the money back ten-fold with nearly 40 minutes of commercial time.

There's also the question of whether the 3,000 or so people who bought tickets to the telecast and the post-show Unity dinner would ask for refunds. The tickets were priced between $500 and $600 each. In the press conference held Sunday afternoon, after it was announced the Emmys were officially canceled, Zabel, along with Mischer and Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS, did say the already-prepared Unity dinners were going to be given to charity. The ATAS is hoping most of the executives, actors and producers will agree to support the organization and not ask for their money back.

However, since this was the second postponement of the show in three weeks, many industry insiders believe it may be time to give up the ghost. The general consensus from the entertainment community is that the Emmys were probably never meant to be, according to a Variety report.

"If I was asked for an option, I would beg the Academy and CBS to say, 'It's gone on too long. We have to move on,'" television producer Craig Zadan told Variety. His company and Canadian producer Alliance Atlantis are up for 13 Emmys for their ABC miniseries Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.

"I would heavily vote in favor of canceling the awards," Zadan added. "The idea of regrouping and restaging an event of this magnitude, to go through this exercise again--it's just too painful."

Still, Zabel told Variety that no matter what, this year's winners will get their awards one way or another.

"Even if we have to drive them over to people's houses and shake hands with them, we will," Zabel said.

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