Emmycrisis2009: Goodbye to All That

At least it's over. For now.    That's the best thing I can say about the Emmy mishegas that's unfolded over the past few weeks. It's sad that the TV Academy can't figure out a way to reshape and reinvent a broadcast that last year was revealed to be completely broken.   Officials sure tried. They studied the issue, debated […]

At least it's over. For now. 

 

That's the best thing I can say about the Emmy mishegas that's unfolded over the past few weeks. It's sad that the TV Academy can't figure out a way to reshape and reinvent a broadcast that last year was revealed to be completely broken.

 

Officials sure tried. They studied the issue, debated it, sought compromise.

 

But in the end, the TV Academy is, as one source once told me, very much like the old Soviet Politburo. "Everything is crumbling around them, and they think they're living in paradise," he said. "They don't just get it."

 

Actually, I think the Academy does get it now. It just has no idea how to convince certain factions within it that real change is needed. And it had no idea how to build a good-faith compromise everyone can live with.

 

Of course, change may be impossible as long as some factions insist on handing out 28 awards in little more than two hours. Opponents have argued the awards aren't the problem, that people love to see writers and directors collect statuettes.

 

Sure. And people love their insurance companies, too.

 

Look, simply getting rid of some primetime awards isn't the solution. I'm not at all convinced that the additions Don Mischer had hinted at would have been much more entertaining than another award. The TV Academy's failure to find fresh blood to produce its show, as the Oscars did, is a major mistake.

 

It also shocks me that the Academy and CBS ever thought it was a good idea to make best drama writing one of the test categories for time-shifting.

 

The world would survive without another speech from Mr. "Mad Men," but that's not the point. Drama writing is the foundation of 21st century television. It was a just plain dumb political move, one so dumb it almost makes me think some people in the Academy leadership wanted this plan to explode.

 

That said, handing out so many statuettes in so short a time simply leaves very little room for any producer to be truly entertaining. 

 

They can be more clever. They can make sure the hosts don't sabotage the show, the way last year's Gang of Five reality emcees did. 

 

But the TV Academy needs to either cut back on the number of awards it hands out, reduce the time spent on awards via time-shifting… or simply concede that it would be better off as a cable event.

 

Meanwhile, here's my analysis of what went wrong this year with Emmy's campaign for revival (bottom line: Change is a bitch).  And these are some of the changes I suggested last year might be wise to consider, as written in a column for TelevisionWeek.

 

Lots of folks strongly disagree with my ideas. I hope you'll use the comments section to state your case. (No mention of death panels or socialism, please).