Emmys declaring ‘Bonjour’

On Sept. 14, when Hollywood gussies up and rolls out the red carpet to celebrate excellence in television, fans nationwide will be joined by more than 650 million foreign viewers in 86 countries.

Call it a block party for the global village. The guest list reads like a geography lesson: Denmark and Djibouti, Honduras and Hong Kong, Lesotho and Libya, Morocco, Norway, Palestine, Sweden and Saudi Arabia, Republic of South Africa, Tobago, Tortola and Tunisia.

Residents of these and the remaining 71 countries will see the Emmy telecast live via satellite or on tape delay. And the fact that some countries don’t even air the shows that are nominated doesn’t seem to lessen the appeal.

Awards shows are as much about stars and glamour as the actual awards, notes Berle Adams, president of Burbank-based BAC, foreign sales rep for ATAS. “I think the viewers are interested in seeing the presenters and the hosts: the glamour of people who go on the show, the stars who present,” says Adams. “Television differs from motion pictures,” he adds. “A television star comes into your home. It’s like your neighbor going out for the evening. If your neighbor gets dress up to go to a big party, wouldn’t you want to see what she’s wearing?”

Nor are the Emmy Awards strictly about series. “Specials and Movies of the Week are sold around the world,” says Adams. “In many cases you have movie stars in those shows, and they have great appeal.” The fact that many movie stars act as presenters at the Emmys simply heightens the glamour of the event.

Considering that the U.S. is one of the largest exporters of television shows in the world, the Emmys can also serve as a preview of coming attractions for countries that don’t currently air the shows in contention. “We convince them that this is part of the industry you are in,” says Adams. “You’re part of an industry that’s growing, and you’re growing with it.”

Of course, the rapid spread of cable and satellite means that many foreign viewers actually are on a first name basis with characters like Frasier, Ross and Rachel, Muldur and Scully. According to Rick Perez, vice president of programming for Turner Network Television Latin America, drama series like “NYPD Blue,” “ER” and “Chicago Hope” find strong syndication appeal in all the major markets in Latin America . And comedies like “Frasier” and “Friends” air in countries as far flung as Sweden, Thailand and South Africa.

This will be the sixth year that ATAS extends its agreement with TNT Latin America to air the show in English, with simultaneous translations in Spanish and Portuguese, in 24 Latin American and Caribbean countries. To Perez, attention to the Emmys is a natural outgrowth of the focus on American film.

“People in Latin America are always interested in Hollywood and who’s the next high-profile actor or actress that comes out of a series,” says Perez. “Recognition is no problem. The line between television and stars from film is so blurred, people are just interested to see what’s going on in entertainment.”

Although no ratings for the telecast have been available in Latin America until now, Perez is encountering “strong interest” from an ad sales perspective. “Advertisers are interested in getting involved in a high-profile franchise that would extend their brands,” he explains.

“It’s a self-building process,” says James Loper, executive director of ATAS. “The more that American television is known and seen, the more important it becomes, and the more sales will be made overseas.” In other words, the Emmys sell the programs and the programs sell the Emmys.

The result? A televised party of global proportions. Bring your friends, bring your family, and most of all, bring your interpreter.

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