Emmy: Kid sister no more

Balancing old favorites, new fare is tricky business

Entering her seventh decade, Emmy has tried — sometimes successfully but often not — to keep up with both viewers’ appetites and critical acclaim. It’s not always an easy task picking what’s best in a television landscape that has both a healthy turnover every fall and a selection of Nielsen-friendly series that return year after year.

There can be so much to choose from in one given season that making the “right” choice can be downright impossible. There’s even a school of thought that feels that several current shows — “The Sopranos,” at pay cabler HBO, to “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The West Wing” and “The Practice,” from the Big Three nets, are just a few examples — are consistently more rewarding than bigscreen fare, though Emmy is often thought of as Oscar’s little sister. While the film community tends to get more attention, TV’s creative community has every reason to be proud of its accomplishments over the years.

Looking to make sure that voters aren’t left behind when it comes to appraising new and innovative fare, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences pronounced a change in this year’s voting system, eliminating judging panels and allowing voters to watch videotapes at home. There’s been some debate as to whether this will have a drastic effect on the winners, but already there are more people taking part in the process, which can only be considered a step in the right direction.

That’s not to say Emmy hasn’t made her share of mistakes. Television legends like Jackie Gleason, Gracie Allen, Andy Griffith and Jack Paar, just to name a few, have never won, and shows and/or actors who may have passed their finest moments have been awarded, sometimes even to their own amazement.

This Daily Variety commemorative look at the Emmys aims to let the reader evaluate how Emmy has affected the television community and how the awards plan to move forward.

One thing seems certain: Emmy is no longer looking to keep up with the crowd, but, this time, to lead.

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