ATAS seeks appropriate tone for Emmys

The Academy of TV Arts & Sciences has moved this year’s Emmy Awards to Oct. 7, but the org and CBS are still figuring out how to present this year’s kudocast.

Telecast producer Don Mischer will scrap what had been planned, including host Ellen DeGeneres’ monologue and a sketch featuring the “Saturday Night Live” troupe.

“The show we had was wonderful, but it would have been appalling now,” one insider said. “If we blow this one, then shame on us.”

Mischer plans to come up with a new outline for the Emmys later this week. Although she has expressed some hesitation, given the country’s unfestive mood, DeGeneres is expected to remain as host — although insiders said there’s a small chance that could change depending on the course of news events.

Beyond that, CBS execs and Academy leaders must now decide whether the telecast will serve as a regular award show, a tribute, a fund-raiser or all of the above.

“Figuring out the tone will be a challenge,” outgoing TV academy chair-CEO Meryl Marshall Daniels said. “What’s most important to me is we do something as heartfelt and connected to the truth of the moment as we possibly can.”

The TV Academy has also contacted major industry players, including network chiefs and top-level producers, for input over how to present the awards.

“We made a lot of calls to people like John Wells and David E. Kelley and (HBO topper) Chris Albrecht,” incoming ATAS chairman-CEO Bryce Zabel said. “We decided that the tone of the town was to go for a later date.”

Zabel said this year’s Emmys “will be unlike any Emmys that have ever taken place.”

Beyond the telecast’s shape and scope, that also includes mundane things such as whether celebrities will walk down a red carpet. Also up in the air: Whether the annual Governor’s Ball — or any of the other parties skedded for Emmy Night — will go forward as planned.

Academy insiders said there’s been talk of converting the ball into a “unity dinner,” but no decisions have been made. Studio reps were also non-committal and hadn’t yet decided whether to go ahead with their own previously scheduled parties.

Modest pre-Emmy affairs, such as the Writers Guild and performers receptions, are expected to still take place.

The Emmys had been scheduled for Sept. 17 until last week’s terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. CBS and Academy officials had been torn between moving the Emmys to Sept. 23 or Oct. 7 (the Shrine Auditorium wasn’t available Sept. 30) — or canceling the show all together.

Once the group decided to forge ahead, Sept. 23 still seemed a little too soon, Marshall Daniels said.

Of course, “nobody knows what Oct. 7 will feel like,” she said. “But the tone of the industry and the tone of the country will be clear in the coming weeks.”

Before committing to the date, however, ATAS had to ask the Museum of Television and Radio to move its annual gala, which this year honors James Burrows and Martin Sheen, to another date.

Museum president Robert Batscha, who had been traveling in China, quickly agreed to step aside and reschedule.

(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

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