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Airstrikes K.O. kudos

Maybe it's not meant to happen


Hollywood tradition dictates the show must go on — but the television community now seems poised to throw in the towel on the 53rd annual Emmy Awards.

After two postponements, trying to mount any sort of full-scale kudocast at a time when world events are changing by the minute would likely be an exercise in futility, most industry insiders said Sunday. The common consensus: This year’s Emmys were probably never meant to be.

Some industry insiders are already suggesting there could be a middle ground between going forward with a full-scale Emmys and killing the event completely.

A nominees’ luncheon, followed by a press conference, has already been suggested. Others think CBS might do well to take the already prepared video packages saluting the heroes of Sept. 11 and intersperse them with clips of the winning shows to create a sort of mini-Emmys, free of any pomp or circumstance.

“If I was asked for an opinion, I would beg the Academy and CBS to say, ‘It’s gone on too long. We have to move on,’ ” said Storyline Entertainment co-topper Craig Zadan.

Zadan has more at stake than most observers: His company and Alliance Atlantis are up for 13 Emmys for their ABC mini “Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.”

Nonetheless, “I would heavily vote in favor of canceling the awards,” Zadan said. “The idea of regrouping and restaging an event of this magnitude, to go through this exercise again — it’s just too painful.”

At Sunday’s press conference announcing their decision to postpone the Emmys once again, several reporters asked why the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and CBS needed more time to decide the ultimate fate of the kudocast. To some journos, it seemed like a no-brainer to simply nix the event.

But CBS topper Leslie Moonves said he and ATAS chairman Bryce Zabel didn’t want to make such a monumental decision in haste.

“We haven’t had time to reassess,” Moonves said. “This was not a unilateral decision. We are a community. There are a lot of factors.”

A final decision is expected within the next 72 hours.

Making 2001 the year without an Emmys would have serious financial consequences. On top of all the coin already lost forever due to the dual postponements — think security costs, catering, setting up the Shrine — canceling the kudocast for good would likely deny ATAS and CBS another big chunk of money.

“We will lose potentially millions of dollars,” Zabel admitted. “We are exposed. We will work that out later.”

Who covers license fees?

CBS has already paid the Academy a license fee of close to $4 million; it’s unclear whether the Eye would want its money back should the show not go on. The Eye’s insurance may cover the amount.

Some are already suggesting that CBS automatically get the rights to next year’s Emmys — though that wouldn’t help ATAS.

International broadcast outlets, meanwhile, would almost certainly want a refund if the kudos are never handed out.

There’s also the question of whether the 3,000 or so people who bought tickets to the kudocast and the post-show Unity dinner would ask for refunds. Each event is priced at up to $600 per person, bringing ATAS several million in revenues.

Academy reps hope many execs, thesps and producers will agree to support the TV Acad by not asking for their money back.

Reskedding costs, too

Choosing to resked the Emmys as they’ve been known would incur costs of its own, however, for other parts of the TV community.

Assuming limo companies and security guards don’t offer refunds for services scheduled to be rendered Sunday, studios, nets and ATAS would have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars again on those same services.

Then there are other expenses — like makeup for thesps. It’s not uncommon for studios to spend up to $3,000 per star to make a thesp look good.

If CBS and ATAS go ahead with the kudos, some suggest the event wouldn’t take place until November — or possibly even January. That’s because it seems hard to believe many execs or thesps would be willing to once again go through another day like Sunday — with the year’s biggest TV event canceled just five hours before it was set to begin.

Even then, many wonder what the point of such a delayed broadcast would be.

“You’re never going to be able to truly honor the recipients,” one senior network exec said.

Zadan, who has high praise for how CBS and ATAS have handled things so far, believes a news conference and lunch would be the best way to go forward.

“Let’s open the envelopes, be proud of who won — and move on,” he said.

One way or another, however, Zable said ATAS will make sure this year’s winners will get their awards — and at least some sort of recognition.

“Even if we have to drive them over to people’s houses and shake hands with them, we will,” Zabel said.

(Michael Schneider contributed to this report.)

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