by Linda Holmes
In an effort to control the length of the Emmy telecast, the television Academy recently announced that it would be pre-taping the presentation of eight awards earlier in the evening and then showing edited versions during the live broadcast. The idea is to, as this year's host Neil Patrick Harris put it, "edit down the standing and the hugging." In other words, the presentation of the award will still be shown during the live broadcast, but in a sort of "Earlier tonight, this happened" kind of way.
The eight awards affected will include two each in acting, directing, writing, and producing, and the time saved will be devoted to showing highlights from the year in television -- including shows that aren't nominated.
On the one hand, it's odd to devote time during an awards show to things that aren't nominated for awards. But on the other hand, the Oscars have done this forever in their various clip packages of the year in movies, and both the Emmys and the Oscars understand that it hurts them when the big shows and movies that people actually watch don't have a presence.
The decision has actually spawned a large protest among TV writers, who already feel shafted by the lack of attention they get during the telecast and feel further slighted now.
Indeed, while most of the categories apparently under discussion involve miniseries and movies, which is at least an understandable choice, there is something particularly off-putting about adding Outstanding Writing In A Drama Series to the list, considering that it may be the single award that has more to do with the recognition of genuinely good dramatic television than any other.
It's not especially flattering to stage a protest over a reduction in the attention given to your own award, in principle, but in this case, the writers would seem to have a point. There ought to be somewhere else to find the extra seconds that writers spend hugging each other.
categories: Awards Season