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Why the Emmy Awards don't play well on TV

Published August 22, 2014 5:37 pm

Television • TV academy, Hollywood guilds stand in the way of making the show good.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Do you care who wins the outstanding writing for a miniseries, movie or a dramatic special at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday?

If you do, chances are you're related to one of the nominees. That's one of many categories few probably care about — one of 26 categories stuffed into a three-hour telecast.

When you figure in all the commercials and promos, that's one award every 4 minutes and 50 seconds. When you factor in host Seth Meyers' opening monologue, the taped bits, the attempts at comedy, the introductions and the in-memoriams, that's a couple of minutes tops for each winner … and plenty of wasted time.

"We just want to have space in the show for if something happens to be able to comment on it," Meyers said.

The Emmys are designed to honor the best of television, so why can't the Emmycast be better television?

Because it's not designed for the viewers. It's designed so the members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences can pat each other on the back.

"Look, the Emmys are not a popular-choice award," said executive producer Don Mischer. "The Emmys are an industry award."

There was a proposal to alternate the writing and directing awards — one set gets televised one year, the other the next year. There was a proposal to tape some of the awards during the commercial breaks and then edit them down for time — and the Directors Guild and the Writers Guild blew a gasket.

What can be done to break the logjam and make the Emmys more entertaining?

"I don't think I would have that answer," Mischer said. "What's happening is that people are watching these shows and [industry] people are watching them. And those of us who have the producing hat on have to do our best to serve both these masters."

Unlike the Oscars, which air on ABC every year, the Emmys rotate among ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, making them "a unique combination of collaboration between four networks," said Bruce Rosenblum, the chairman and CEO of ATAS. "We have all the guilds that we have to be respectful of. And we have our peer groups. And the collaboration of all of those is finely tuned."

Any changes would require a "collaboration of all of those entities."

"We are in constant conversation with all of those partners," Rosenblum said. "And if something's to happen over time, it would take the collaboration of all those partners."

What follows are nominees in categories you might actually care about ... along with judgments as to who ought to win:


"Breaking Bad" (AMC), "Downton Abbey" (PBS), "Game of Thrones" (HBO), "House of Cards" (Netflix), "Mad Men" (AMC), "True Detective" (HBO)

Should win • "Game of Thrones"


"The Big Bang Theory" (CBS), "Louie" (FX), "Modern Family" (ABC), "Orange Is the New Black" (Netflix), "Silicon Valley" (HBO), "Veep" (HBO)

Should win • "Big Bang Theory"


"The Colbert Report" (Comedy Central), "The Daily Show" (Comedy Central), "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (ABC), "Real Time With Bill Maher" (HBO), "Saturday Night Live" (NBC), "The Tonight Show" (NBC)

Should win • "The Colbert Report"

Reality competition

"The Amazing Race" (CBS), "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC), "Project Runway" (Lifetime), "So You Think You Can Dance" (Fox), "Top Chef" (Bravo), "The Voice" (NBC)

Should win • "Project Runway"


"American Horror Story: Coven" (FX); "Bonnie and Clyde (History/Lifetime); "Fargo" (FX); "Luther" (BBC America); "Treme" (HBO); "White Queen (Starz)

Should win • "Fargo"

TV movie

"Killing Kennedy" (National Geographic), "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight" (HBO), "The Normal Heart" (HBO), "The Trip to Bountiful" (Lifetime), "Sherlock: His Last Vow" (PBS)

Should win • "The Normal Heart"

Actor (drama)

Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad"), Jeff Daniels ("Newsroom"), Jon Hamm ("Mad Men"), Woody Harrelson ("True Detective"), Matthew McConaughey ("True Detective"), Kevin Spacey ("House of Cards")

Should win • Cranston

Actress (drama)

Lizzy Caplan ("Masters of Sex"), Claire Danes ("Homeland"), Michelle Dockery ("Downton Abbey"), Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife"), Kerry Washington ("Scandal"), Robin Wright ("House of Cards")

Should win • Margulies

Actor (comedy)

Don Cheadle ("House of Lies"), Louis C.K. ("Louie"), Ricky Gervais ("Derek"), Matt LeBlanc (Episodes), William H. Macy "(Shameless"), Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory")

Should win • LeBlanc

Actress (comedy)

Lena Dunham ("Girls"), Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie"), Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep"), Melissa Mc Carthy ("Mike and Molly"), Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation"), Taylor Schilling ("Orange Is the New Black")

Should win • Poehler

Actor (TV movie or miniseries)

Benedict Cumberbatch ("Sherlock: His Last Vow"), Idris Elba ("Luther"), Chiwetel Ejiofor ("Dancing on the Edge"), Martin Freeman ("Fargo"), Mark Ruffalo ("The Normal Heart"), Billy Bob Thornton ("Fargo")

Should win • Thornton

Actress (TV movie or miniseries)

Helena Bonham Carter ("Burton and Taylor"), Minnie Driver ("Return to Zero), Jessica Lange ("AHS: Coven"), Sarah Paulson ("AHS: Coven"), Cicely Tyson ("The Trip to Bountiful"), Kristen Wiig ("Spoils of Babylon")

Should win • Lange

Supporting actor (drama)

Jim Carter ("Downtown Abbey"), Josh Charles ("The Good Wife"), Peter Dinklage ("Game of Thrones"), Mandy Patinkin ("Homeland"), Aaron Paul ("Breaking Bad"), Jon Voight ("Ray Donovan")

Should win • Dinklage

Supporting actress (drama)

Christine Baranski ("The Good Wife"), Joanne Froggatt ("Downton Abbey"), Anna Gunn ("Breaking Bad"), Lena Headey ("Game of Thrones"), Christina Hendricks ("Mad Men"), Maggie Smith ("Downton Abbey")

Should win • Gunn

Supporting actor (comedy)

Fred Armisen ("Portlandia"), Andre Braugher ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine"), Ty Burrell ("Modern Family"), Adam Driver ("Girls"), Jesse Tyler Ferguson ("Modern Family"), Tony Hale ("Veep")

Should win • Braugher

Supporting actress (comedy)

Mayim Bialik ("The Big Bang Theory"), Julie Bowen ("Modern Family"), Allison Janney ("Mom"), Kate Mulgrew ("Orange Is the New Black"), Kate McKinnon ("Saturday Night Live"), Anna Chlumsky ("Veep")

Should win • Janney

Supporting actor (TV movie or miniseries)

Matt Bomer ("The Normal Heart"), Martin Freeman ("Sherlock: His Last Vow"), Colin Hanks ("Fargo"), Joe Mantello ("The Normal Heart"), Alfred Molina ("Return to Zero"), Jim Parsons ("The Normal Heart")

Should win • Bomer

Supporting actress (TV movie or miniseries)

Kathy Bates ("AHS: Coven"), Angela Bassett ("AHS: Coven"), Ellen Burstyn ("Flowers in the Attic"), Frances Conroy ("AHS: Coven"), Julia Roberts ("The Normal Heart"), Allison Tolman ("Fargo")

Should win • Tolman —


The 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards airs Monday at 6 p.m. on NBC/Ch. 5.






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