Latin spattin’ for TV Acads

Kudocast would honor U.S. Spanish-language p'grams

The nation’s two rival TV academies — which had grown closer and even talked of reunification in recent years —  have erupted into a war of words Thursday over the proposed Latin Emmys.

The New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences fired the first salvo, hiring power attorney David Boies to state its case and filing a demand for arbitration against Los Angeles’ Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

NATAS president Peter Price accused ATAS of dragging its feet in helping launch a new Latin Emmy Awards.

In a tersely worded press release, the org attacked ATAS for employing “stalling tactics to obstruct the National Television Academy’s efforts to move forward with its plans to stage the Latin Emmys next year.”

NATAS said it had “tried repeatedly over the last six months” to work with ATAS and said it filed with the American Arbitration Assn. in New York to “prevent ATAS from impeding the establishment of the Latin Emmys,” even though, according to an agreement among both sides, neither academy can launch an Emmycast without the other’s approval.

Boies will rep NATAS in any proceedings.

In response, ATAS president Todd Leavitt said his org has been taking a more deliberate approach in determining how to move forward before starting a new kudocast, arguing that the Latino entertainment community was divided on how to present such a show.

Leavitt pointed out that some Hispanic leaders have objected to the term “Latino Emmys,” while issues of logistics have not been resolved on how a new Emmy Awards would be administered.

“While NATAS was busy hiring lawyers and plotting arbitrations, ATAS has been actively soliciting the input of both the Hispanic community and Spanish-language broadcasters,” Leavitt said. “Even as today’s self-serving NATAS press release hit the media, our ATAS leaders were meeting with members of the Hispanic congressional caucus to hear their thoughts.”

Price first leaked word last month that NATAS, ATAS and the NATAS-run Intl. Academy of TV Arts and Sciences had been pondering a Latin Emmy fete.

Eligibility issues

A Latin Emmy telecast would honor the gamut of U.S. Spanish-language programming, including entertainment, news and sports broadcasts. But according to insiders, a number of obstacles must be addressed before a Latin Emmys could be launched.

For example, it’s unclear whether shows imported from Latin America, such as telenovelas, would be eligible. And it’s unclear if a Latin Emmys would be conducted in Spanish on Univision or Telemundo or elsewhere in English.

Plus, NATAS and ATAS would have to figure out whether Spanish-lingo shows would still be eligible for Intl. Emmy Awards.

Acads split in ’77

NATAS and ATAS officially split in 1977. The two sides parted ways after the TV Academy’s New York and Los Angeles chapters decided that their differences were irreconcilable.

ATAS was handed the Primetime Emmy Awards in the divorce, while NATAS took on the daytime, news, public service and sports awards, as well as oversight of 18 regional academy chapters and the org’s Intl. Council (now the Intl. Academy).

Relations between the two orgs were chilly for years but began to thaw in the 1990s. When longtime NATAS chief John Cannon died in 2001, talk of a possible reunification gained steam.

The 30-year cold war between ATAS and NATAS appeared to be over earlier this year, but ATAS officials say they now aren’t sure they can negotiate with NATAS “in good faith.”

“(The Latin Emmys) should have not been debated this way,” Leavitt said. “This squabbling is unnecessarily silly and counterproductive.”

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