The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) -The Emmy Awards, trying to pull out of a ratings spiral, will give less airtime to some winners and more to popular shows and stars.
The plan calls for "timeshifting" eight of the 28 awards by recording their presentation before the show airs live, Don Mischer, the ceremony's executive producer, said Thursday. An edited version of the winners' acceptances will be shown during the ceremony.
That will save up to 15 minutes during the three-hour Sept. 20 telecast, time that can be given over to more audience-friendly fare, possibly including some interactive opportunities for viewers, Mischer said. Details have yet to be worked out, he said.
"Our job is to make an entertaining show that appeals to the maximum number of people but, most importantly, maintains the integrity of the Emmy brand," Mischer told a teleconference.
The Academy of Television Arts&Sciences' board of governors approved the proposal Wednesday night.
The academy is walking a fine line, trying to inject life into the Emmys without alienating its members. The eight awards will be split equally among directing, writing, acting and producing; a preliminary list includes, for example, writing for a drama series.
"I don't look at it as a second-class position," Mischer said.
Emmy viewership has suffered as academy voters lavish attention on deserving but little-watched cable shows, like last year's best drama winner "Mad Men," and largely snub top-rated broadcast series.
That's a painful slap for the four major broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, which take turns airing the Emmys but increasingly see their programming ignored.
The 12 most-watched series from last season, including "American Idol" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," garnered only two awards, Mischer said.
The result in 2008 was the least-watched Emmy ceremony ever, with 12.3 million viewers. Other awards shows have been able to reverse similar ratings slides and the Emmys must do the same to remain relevant, the producer said.
That was borne out by academy-commissioned research: Potential viewers indicated they didn't tune in because the Emmys featured show they didn't know and weren't interested in.
Mischer noted that last month's Tony Awards included numbers from popular musicals "Mamma Mia!" and "Legally Blonde," which are touring the country but weren't among the nominees.
The new approach will require a number of changes, including getting the audience into place earlier at the Nokia Theatre to allow for the eight awards to be recorded shortly before the ceremony airs. That will mean an earlier start to the red carpet.
Neil Patrick Harris, who was host of the Tonys, has that role for the Emmys airing on CBS.
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