CBS, AFI hope kudos spin Globes

Show to review, highlight film and television

CBS and the American Film Institute are about to give the Golden Globes some competition.

Eye web and AFI today will announce plans for an annual film and TV awards dinner that aims to serve as the new kickoff to awards season. Inaugural edition of the three-hour kudocast, dubbed AFI Awards 2001, will be broadcast live to the East Coast by CBS on Saturday, Jan. 5.

The show will be designed as a year in review for both film and TV, highlighted by the selection of the frame’s top 10 pics. Individual achievement in several categories will also be honored, along with awards for creative ensembles behind selected films and TV series.

Two 13-member committees — one for features, one for TV — will gather in December to choose noms in 19 categories as well as up to six “AFI Moments of Significance” from the previous year’s films and TV broadcasts. Committees will consist of three AFI trustees, three artists, three historians, three critics and a chairman.

Following the announcement of the noms, an AFI assembled jury of 100 film and TV experts will then choose winners.

“Since its founding in 1967, one of AFI’s core missions has been to document excellence in the moving image arts,” said AFI Director and CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg. “AFI Awards will add another volume to the history of American film and television by creating an almanac of annual achievement for future generations.”

Firstenberg said the kudocast meshes with AFI’s “national mission to advance and preserve America’s great moving image heritage.” AFI has been in the kudos biz for a while, churning out lifetime achievement awards for the past 29 years.

From the Eye’s perspective, the AFI Awards serve as a way to steal away a bit of the thunder from NBC’s increasingly popular Golden Globes broadcasts. The CBS kudocast will air two weeks before the Jan. 20 Globes.

Since bowing on the Peacock six years ago, ratings for the Globes have leaped 500%. Last year’s show averaged a 9.8 rating/22 share with adults 18-49, behind only the Oscars and the Grammys.

In July, NBC inked a new 10-year deal with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. to keep the Globes on the Peacock through 2011.

AFI Awards will have a tough time matching the Globes ratings, if only because the initial broadcast will be on a Saturday night, when there are fewer available eyeballs. In success, however, CBS and AFI could opt to move the show to a more high-profile evening.

Multiple Emmy-winner Gary Smith and AFI board of trustees member Frederick Pierce will exec produce the kudocast, with Dann Netter and Bob Gazzale serving as producers. Quartet previously produced the “AFI 100 Years” specs, which have drawn solid ratings for CBS over the past few years.

The AFI Awards 2001 dinner will be held at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

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