General News

Sounds Off! The Emmys

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Nov 04, 2001 | 7:41pm EST

"No party is any fun unless seasoned with folly."

-- Erasmus (c.1466-1536)

Hooray for Hollywood.

Kudos to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for ascribing to the old adage that "the show must go on" and airing the Emmys on Nov. 4. ATAS won't let the terrorist attacks or their aftermath stop them or the Primetime Emmy Awards, which have now been postponed twice.

But ATAS has scaled back the party. Attendees have been asked to skip the formal wear in favor of dressy business attire, while a muted red carpet will be trod by the mournful celebs.

(Unfortunately, it looks as if Joan Rivers and daughter will once again grace E! Entertainment Television's coverage with their "witty" banter and fashion commentary from the red carpet. I guess that will make their telecast truly joyless.)

Walter Cronkite is expected to appear on the telecast. Certainly a veteran, award-winning newsman like Cronkite will be competent and topical, but he'll also certainly be somber. And it's anticipated that host Ellen DeGeneres will tone down her jokes and jibes.

The broadcast will almost assuredly open with a tribute to the fallen and the heroes of Sept. 11. And it will almost as assuredly close with it. In between, the Hollywood stars with speaking parts on the show will share their grief and prayers of hope with us.

How moving. How touching. How unlike any awards show the United States ever puts on.

At this rate, why even hold the Emmys? If we can't have the party, why bother?

Some people will say that if the Emmys don't air the terrorists have won. Huh? What? Is that how the Taliban keeps score?

Will Bin Laden say to his followers, "Well, sure our headquarters in Afghanistan have been bombed to rubble and 95 percent of our funds confiscated, but hey--we got those darned Emmys canceled, and that counts as a victory in our win column."

Half the reason America loves to watch awards shows like the Emmys and the Oscars is to see the stars come out at night, to see how the other half get all dressed up given the chance.

If ATAS really wants to honor the fallen then that's what it should do--in the biggest, loudest, gaudiest, most outrageous fashion possible. The party should be larger this year than ever before.

DeGeneres and others at the microphone shouldn't tone down the insults, in-jokes, political jabs. On the other hand, they shouldn't necessarily avoid touching gestures of heartfelt appreciation or, where appropriate, meaningful dedications to the victims and heroes of Sept. 11. But they shouldn't turn the Emmys into a misplaced tribute.

If we can't have the Emmys with all that it brings--the gowns, the black ties and the humor--let's not have the Emmys at all.

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