<i>Variety</i> editorial

Are award shows really that hard to mount? They sure look hard.

No one was surprised when the rating for this week’s Emmys plunged roughly 13%, yielding the second smallest audience in 13 years. That was half the size of the Oscar audience, which also is declining.

So perhaps it was symbolic that Fox, which carried the show, had just about the worst night in Emmy history — zero awards. Indeed, for the first time, cable shows received more awards than did those on the broadcast networks. Some of those accepting their kudos had received so many in the past that even they seemed tuned out — “what, this again?”

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has tinkered with its approach in recent years, shifting from all-day “judging panels” to at-home viewing, allowing more of its members to participate in selecting the winners. Yet while that has seemingly opened up the process to a few more new faces, if the goal was to broaden the field of excellence recognized there’s clearly work still to be done.

Sure, we’re all glad that “The Amazing Race” won the Emmy for best reality show (Fox hoped it would be “American Idol”). We just wish that the Emmys themselves represented more of an amazing race, instead of a resounding thud.

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