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July 30, 2009

TV Academy shafts HBO to be more entertaining

The TV Academy is going to pre-tape eight categories from the Emmy Awards, most likely among the long-form categories. That's of concern to HBO, which dominates those slots. The premium network just released this statement:

"For a show that has always recognized the best in the television industry, it now seems to be increasingly focused on recognizing broadcast network television. That is unfortunate given the range and caliber of talent represented in these categories which are being singled out for time-shifting."

More on this when HBO executives take the TCA stage this afternoon, in the meantime, here's the story:

By Nellie Andreeva

The TV Academy's board of governors on Wednesday night voted to approve a time-shift of eight categories on the Primetime Emmy Awards.

The presentations of those awards will be taped before the start of the ceremony on Sept. 20 and aired in an edited format during the broadcast on CBS, cutting walk-ups and trimming some remarks.

The eight categories in question will be finalized in the next couple of weeks, but will probably be close to the ones proposed by the Emmys executive producer Don Mischer to the board of the Academy on Wednesday that mostly affect the long-form arena.

The eight include best movie and best miniseries, writing for drama series and for movie/miniseries; directing for movie/miniseries and for variety, music and comedy series; and supporting actor and actress in TV movie/miniseries. (According to an agreement with the guilds, there has to be parity in the time-shifted categories: two each for actors, directors, writers and producers.)

The decision to condense some categories was made after the Emmys hit an all-time ratings low last year, leading to the TV Academy ordering a report from a research firm that showed that the main turnoff for viewers was that they were not familiar with the winning series.

"We try to make the Emmys more relevant to mainstream viewers while honoring the choice of the Academy properly and appropriately," Mischer said.

It is not clear yet if the time-shifted categories will air in groupings or individually dispersed throughout the telecast.

Mischer pointed to the Tony Awards, which also employs time-shifting. The Emmy pre-taping also will shift the ceremony's red carpet, whose start will be moved up earlier.

The estimated 12-15 minutes saved on the Emmy telecast will be used for more "bigger picture" material, including showcasing popular series and events such as the inauguration of President Barack Obama, which are not necessarily up for an award.

Mischer also is discussing with CBS Interactive adding interactive elements on the show.

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