Mischer aims to revive Emmys

Don Mischer, exec producer of this year’s 45th annual Primetime Emmy Awards and a former Academy of Television Arts & Sciences governor, says he’s looking at this year’s telecast “as a new beginning in many ways” for the awards show.

After a critical drubbing in 1992 and six consecutive years of relatively low ratings on Fox Broadcasting Co., the Primetime Emmys return to a network under an exclusive four-year deal with ABC, helping kick off the web’s fall season with its Sept. 19 airdate.

Mischer will likely employ a single host (instead of the trio used in recent years), to be announced later this week. He told Daily Variety that he’s hoping the Emmys can “make a positive statement about television” and, through selective use of taped pieces, “put the past season in perspective and do some entertaining things that are appropriate” to the show.

Despite anger on the part of the other webs over ABC’s exclusive deal, Mischer said he’s hopeful everyone will support the show, citing submissions from NBC and CBS’ in-house production units — which garnered 14 and 11 nominations, respectively — as a good sign.

Mischer said that because there’s so much original product on TV now, part of the show will seek to familiarize viewers with the range of available programming and will look more at the TV process and those who work in it. “People will respect the Emmy more if they know what went into it,” he said.

Without wanting to tread on past Emmycasts, Mischer observed that “people on the show have kind of turned on themselves” in recent years by bad-mouthing the industry. While he’s not looking for a whitewash, the producer wants to avoid focusing on television’s negative aspects.

Mischer is thankful this year’s show features a reduced number of on-air awards: 26, compared to an average 31 categories. “It’s a definite advantage,” he said, citing his strong desire to “get this show off the air on time.”

Aside from affiliate pressures, ratings usually drop appreciably after 11 p.m. Last year’s show ran about 20 minutes over and, despite being critically panned, still drew Fox’s best-ever Emmy number.

The producer’s control over a live awards show is always somewhat limited, and Mischer, who has also produced three Tony Awards broadcasts, said he wants to be careful not to curb spontaneity. In that vein, he’s still pondering the best approach to hold down the length of acceptance speeches.

“These types of things can take on a life of their own, no matter how you plan andprepare,” he said. “It’s also fun to take a chance on having it all work right.”

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