Despite a ticket-and-staffing boycott by NBC, CBS and Fox Broadcasting Co., Academy of Television Arts & Sciences officials don’t anticipate any negative impact on the Primetime Emmy Awards show itself, saying talent and program suppliers are still participating enthusiastically in the Sept. 19 event.
A new wrinkle to the so-calledthree-network boycott surfaced last week, meanwhile, when Linda Mancuso — NBC’s VP of Saturday morning and family programs — resigned from the Academy board of governors, citing “professional loyalty” to the Peacock network.
One source indicated that NBC has instructed or pressured employees not to participate in Academy activities, but a network spokeswoman denied it.
“They didn’t tell me to do it,” Mancuso said late Friday. “It just became crystal clear to me that I need to support my network … knowing how strongly they feel” about being shut out of the Emmycast via ATAS’ deal with ABC.
Mancuso sent a resignation letter to outgoing Academy prez Leo Chaloukian that was circulated among the board at its meeting last week. “I feel very strongly about my professional loyalty to NBC and network television in general, ” she wrote. “Since my network has been alienated from the Emmy broadcast and the Academy, I feel that it would be a conflict of interest for me to continue my term as governor.”
John Agoglia, president of NBC Enterprises, gave up his seat on ATAS’ executive committee last February as a form of protest shortly after the organization accepted ABC’s exclusive four-year rights offer.
Mancuso represented the children’s programming branch — one of 25 peer groups that each select two board members. She was the only governor directly employed by one of the three angry networks.
Don Mischer, exec producer of this year’s Emmy Awards, reiterated that despite corporate ill will, the creative community is “very much behind this show,” adding that the program will represent all the networks in regard to presenters and other on-air elements.
Mischer said the awards, like this year’s widely scattered nominations, will reflect “the new diversity of television.”
While he expressed disappointment about the boycott, Mischer added that he was happy those steps taken involve only behind-the-scenes matters that “are not going to be anything that’s reflected on the screen.”
Observers have pointed out that the webs can’t prevent talent or production companies from taking part in the Emmys. NBC Entertainment prez Warren Littlefield did issue a letter to talent explaining NBC’s reasoning in suspending its involvement (Daily Variety, Aug. 13).
Jerry Seinfeld, one of NBC’s biggest stars, also declined an overture about hosting the show; however, both Academy officials and Seinfeld’s manager, George Shapiro, stress that Seinfeld demurred some time ago because of time constraints , not the current controversy.
“If NBC had the Emmys, it would be the same decision,” Shapiro said.
Certain Academy members remain baffled by the intensity of the anti-Emmy reaction. Not only did Fox air the awards the past six years, but NBC consecutively televised the Emmys for more than a decade, from 1954-65, when the showcase first began airing nationally.
Network officials have cited the manner in which the Academy handled the negotiation — spurning a four-network offer — as the root of their irritation, as well as ABC’s use of the awards to launch its fall lineup.
Nominees receive free tickets to the show, and the Academy anticipates having no trouble making up for tickets not purchased by the other networks.
Among the beneficiaries of the boycott, in fact, is HBO, which apparently received better seats this year because CBS, NBC and Fox weren’t gobbling up their usual tally. The pay channel, which has bought about three dozen tickets for employees, tied ABC with 55 nominations, the first time that’s been achieved by a cable service.