Biting the Ballot
It’s safe to assume there are at least six people who aren’t too pleased with Emmy’s new voting system (which allowed TV academy members to screen tapes at home and vote by mail). The folks deciding the Best Comedy category, for example, nearly didn’t get one of the four episodes submitted by Friends. Chris Rock is probably peeved too, since his name was mistakenly left off the ballot for Best Variety Special. And let’s not forget how that truck carrying all those Everybody Loves Raymond videotapes got hijacked early on. ”This is what they get for no longer having monitors over voters,” says Emmy historian Tom O’Neil, a proponent of the old system, in which voters were sequestered at a hotel. ”It’s going to take a while to catch these things.” Although the glitches were frustrating and time-consuming (voters were sent new ballots with Rock’s name, while new Friends and Raymond episodes were soon dispatched), the experiment to overhaul the much-criticized system proved mostly successful: Four times as many voters participated this year (from roughly 600 to more than 2,600). But will the new process finally put an end to the monopoly of such perennial winners as Dennis Franz (nominated for Best Actor in a Drama) and John Lithgow (nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy)? The TV academy is optimistic. ”We’ll know on the night of [Sept.] 10th [by] how the room feels,” says chairman Meryl Marshall. ”I expect the buzz to be quite positive.” Hopefully, that’s code for: James Gandolfini, get your speech ready.
While we can thank Survivor for a summer of good entertainment, we can also curse it for overloading us with fall TV promos. Is anyone not sick of seeing Bette Midler hoist her breasts or hearing The Fugitive’s Tim Daly exclaim ”I didn’t kill my wife!”? Well, CBS isn’t. ”The general rule is that there’s no such thing as too much frequency,” says exec VP of research David Poltrack. ”Fans may think you’re overdoing it but they’ll still watch the show. The promos tend to be the most irritating to those who aren’t going to tune in. So there’s no downside.” Actually, there is one: ”When you only have 22 minutes of material from a pilot, you do risk letting viewers see every frame in the promo,” says NBC Agency president John Miller. But if a show has high viewer awareness (and that’s certainly the case with Bette and The Fugitive), then don’t expect a change anytime soon. NBC promises at least 14 to 15 promos per night during the Olympics, and not all are going to be fresh and exciting. ”We do get sick of our promos way before viewers do,” Miller admits. Wanna bet?
And so on …
Just Shoot Me has wooed Mr. Show’s David Cross back to reprise his role as Elliott’s (Enrico Colantoni) dunderheaded brother, perhaps for November sweeps. Last year, Cross’ appearance as slow Donnie helped the NBC series garner an Emmy nomination for comedy writing.
— Additional reporting by Tricia Johnson