When it comes to awards shows, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is on the cutting edge. This year's primetime Emmy show could be a lot shorter, thanks to changes the Academy approved this week. According to the Los Angeles Times, winners in some of the writing, directing, and other non-acting categories won't be taking up a lot of time making their way to the stage and thanking their agents and families. Not because they'll give their speeches from the aisles, as on this year's Oscar show, but because their remarks will be taped in advance. Also, the pre-taped comments will be not so much thank-yous as interviews, with strict time limits.
The move is a compromise meant to streamline the Sept. 18 show without shortchanging (too much) the off-camera talent. An earlier proposal would have shoved aside as many as 14 awards categories to the non-televised Creative Arts Emmys held a few days earlier, but the Writers and Directors Guilds considered that idea not only a snub but a contractual violation. Still, Emmy producers felt they had to pick up the pace or risk losing even more viewers. The Emmy show includes 27 categories, more than any other major awards show, and last year's telecast saw ratings fall 22 percent from 2003. (Other awards shows, including the Oscars, have also seen viewership drop this year.) ''I am confident we have made a giant first step in reshaping an event that will continue to honor excellence but will be much better paced and more compelling and entertaining for the television viewer,'' ATAS chairman Dick Askin said in a statement. Plus, there'll be less worry about winners getting stuck in the bathroom.