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Reality bites as nets nix clips

Mischer: Skeins' producers into show, networks not

The cold, hard reality of network competition has put the kibosh on exec producer Don Mischer’s inaugural Reality Awards.

ABC and Mischer called off the planned kudocast Wednesday, one month before the two-hour special was set to tape on the Sony lot (Daily Variety, Sept. 4.).

The reason: Competing networks refused to give Mischer permission to use clips from their shows, many of which are co-produced or owned outright by the webs.

“We need the cooperation of all the networks to show clips of shows that would be nominated,” Mischer said. “We were simply denied that use. The producers of shows were very much behind this, but for whatever reason, the networks weren’t.”

Mischer declined to get specific about which nets nixed the use of vid clips, saying only that he was disappointed by the reaction.

“We were surprised that the networks didn’t see the value in promoting their own shows, even if it was on ABC,” Mischer said. “I can’t speak for the networks, but it’s just a very competitive time in television. It could be the networks didn’t want to give ABC any competitive edge.”

Spec was set to tape Nov. 23, just before the end of the November sweeps. Mischer said no airdate had been set for the spec, though nominating ballots had already been mailed to a blue ribbon panel of voters. Viewers would have determined winners in a range of categories.

The collapse of the Reality Awards isn’t the first time network paranoia has killed a TV-centric production. NBC attempted to revive “Battle of the Network Stars” a few years ago, only to encounter resistance from other nets, which refused to allow their stars to compete. ABC also faced an unofficial boycott during the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” era, when some webheads banned their stars from appearing on celeb editions of the quizzer.

Major events like the Emmys, which Mischer has frequently produced, have risen above network pettiness. However, when HBO made a play for the Emmys last year, some nets talked openly of denying clips of their shows if the feevee cabler won the rights to the franchise.

Network reps weren’t talking about the matter, though one reality topper said the decision to boycott the awards was more complicated than simple inter-network pettiness.

“I don’t think it was a legitimate awards show,” the exec said, pointing to some of the show’s more lighthearted categories. “I’m not sure what the value of the promotion is when you’re talking about the hottest hot tub scene. That’s not the kind of exposure we need.”

Mischer said he had no plans to shop the kudocast to a cable outlet, even though it’s possible nets might not be as hardline about their clips if the show were carried by a net such as E! He also held out hope nets might reconsider their stance, allowing the spec to be revived at a later date.

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