Have the Emmys Met Their Rival?


From November to March, movie executives and stars shuttle from awards show to awards show, being fêted and honored sometimes up to three times a weekend. But TV types? They get tossed a few token prizes during movie season, and — even more insulting — when they do get their one measly TV-dedicated awards, the Emmys? As soon as it ends, it’s “Get back to work, we got a new season to produce!” But now the Paley Center for Media is moving forward with a scheme that could rectify the kudos gap, officially targeting May 2012 as a launch date for a new TV awards ceremony. Have the Emmys finally found their Golden Globes, doubling their glamour and recognition? Unlikely.

The new TV awards actually started taking form late last year, when some disaffected network and studio insiders began talking to the Paley Center about starting something new. They were frustrated by the overall dominance of cable at the Emmys, and were looking for something that could give the broadcast nets a chance: for instance, maybe splitting categories into “Best Network Drama” and “Best Cable Drama.” (Internal politics at the TV Academy make any changes to the show or the overall awards process near impossible. Plus, it does seem a little bit like changing the rules mid-game.) With the Big Four networks' contract to broadcast the Emmys expiring after this last show, it seemed as if some small-screen types were trying to send the TV Academy a message: We have options! The movement picked up more steam in March, when the Paley Center announced a planning committee for the awards show that included reps from such big TV conglomerates as Sony and Fox.

Now we come to this afternoon's announcement of a 2012 launch for an alterna-Emmys. While the show is still on track, it's clearly lost momentum. The decision to push the show to 2012 — rather than bow next year — suggests the Paley Center doesn't think it can get the financial backing needed to quickly make its show a true Emmys rival. What's more, thanks to solid ratings and good reviews for the most recent Emmycast, recent reports indicate that the Big Four are now open to finding a way of keeping those awards on broadcast TV for at least another four years. That could make it much tougher for the Paleys (hey, if they won't name the show, we will!) to gain their own big-bucks broadcast rights deal. Unlike movie kudosfests such as the Oscars and Golden Globes, TV award shows don't bring out quite the same level of talent, and it's hard to imagine any network that's already pitching in on the Emmys also shelling out big money to try out a new, untested TV awards show (though the Paley press release insists there is interest from unnamed "networks"). Even if the Paley Center does manage to find financial backing, instead of ending up as a true rival to the Emmys, it's more likely the new show will end up having more in common with such short-lived kudoscasts as the TV Guide Awards or the American Comedy Awards.