Showrunners Protest as Categories Cut from Emmy Telecast

Damon Lindeloff & Carlton Cuse are among more than 100 writers protesting the Emmys

Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse are among more than 100 writers protesting the Emmys

150 showrunners have signed a petition protesting against the decision to ‘time shift’eight categories in this year’s Emmy telecast. Writers including Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy), Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse (Lost), Matthew Wiener (Mad Men), Seth McFarlane (Family Guy) and Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives) are outraged at exec producer Don Mischer’s decision to pre-tape eight categories two each for producing, writing, directing and acting in order to streamline the ceremony, due to air September 20th on CBS.

Yesterday was the first day of the TCA press tour in Pasadena, in which a panel was hosted by CBS president of entertainment Nina Tassler to discuss the Emmy telecast. When quizzed about this controversial decision, Tassler said, ‘I don’t think we’re being unfair to the creative community.’She went on to stress how the change will be done in a ‘very respectful way’that will in no way damage the integrity of the Emmys.

Mischer’s plan hopes to shed fifteen minutes off the three-hour telecast. ‘We are trying to keep the Emmys alive as a television event,’Mischer argued to reporters. He went on to claim research has shown that potential viewers are turned off from the telecast as it features a large amount of shows that ‘mainstream viewers did not know and were not interested in’.

Although the removed categories have been split, the writers feel particularly hard done by as they only had four categories to begin with. Coming close on the heels of the WGA strike which crippled the 2007-2008 television season, they believe that this is yet another example of the writers being undervalued and underappreciated within the industry. In a letter sent by the Writers’Guild to all its members, it was argued that this decision ‘conveys a fundamental understatement of the importance of writers in the creation of television programming and a symbolic attack on the primacy of writing in our industry.’They argue that last year’s telecast hosted by five reality television presenters who clearly had not much prepared by way of script suffered ‘because of a lack of scripted material’.

The full protest letter reads:

“We, the undersigned showrunners and executive producers of television’s current line-up of programs, oppose the Academy of Television Arts and Science’s decision to remove writing awards from the live telecast. This decision conveys a fundamental understatement of the importance of writers in the creation of television programming and a symbolic attack on the primacy of writing in our industry. We implore ATAS to restore these awards to their rightful place in the live telecast of the 2009 Emmy Awards.”

Tassler-b

Nina Tassler, President of CBS

Last year’s WGA strike threatened to tear a massive hole in the television industry. A deal was of course reached, but it appears that the writers still do not believe that they are valued enough within their industry. They argue that writing plays a ‘primary and seminal role’in television, and to devalue this is ‘ridiculous and self-defeating’. Do you believe that this is yet another example of the writers being underappreciated? Or should they just get on with it?

Sources:

EW.com, Variety, and THR.com


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