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Why the Emmy Awards don’t play well on TV
Television » TV academy, Hollywood guilds stand in the way of making the show good.
First Published Aug 22 2014 09:56 am • Last Updated Aug 25 2014 09:19 am

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.

At a glance


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

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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."

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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"


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