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Emmy producer defends 'time shifting' plan

Arguing that “we are trying to keep the Emmys alive as a major television event,” Executive Producer Don Mischer outlined plans today to streamline the Sept. 20 telecast on CBS. Mischer told reporters at the Television Critics Association tour in Pasadena that he’ll pre-tape eight categories during the ceremony – two for writing, two for acting, two for producing and two for directing. By pre-taping the categories, Mischer says he can edit down the time it takes for the recipients to leave their seats, walk to the stage and, in some cases, thank a bevy of lawyers and agents – thus saving precious (see: boring) minutes in the telecast. That saved time, he added, will be used to showcase more of TV’s best programming from the year. To help illustrate his point, Mischer showed critics and reporters an edited version of one award from last year’s ceremony, which looked almost indistinguishable from a typical live ceremony. “We are trying to do this very dignified,” explained Mischer, adding that even with the edited awards, “there will be presenters and there will be nominees listed and there will be walk-ups.”

Hours before Mischer spoke to reporters, the Writers Guild sent a protest letter from more than 150 showrunners in opposition to the proposed changes. Signed by top-tier executive producers like Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives), Carol Mendelsohn (CSI) and Matthew Weiner (Mad Men), the letter argued that the 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.”

Mischer said changes are needed because the Television Academy’s research shows that potential viewers aren’t watching because there is a perception that the Emmy telecast focuses on series that “mainstream viewers did not know and were not interested in.”

“What we need is to make the show more about broadcasting and less about narrowcasting,” he added.

Originally posted August 3 2009 — 8:35 PM EDT

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