Guilds balk at Emmy’s new plan

WGA, DGA warn about show shift

Efforts to streamline the Emmys have run into a major roadblock: The major guilds won’t go along.

The leaders of the DGA and WGA West have told the Academy of TV Arts & Sciences that plans to overhaul its Prime Time Emmy telecast will violate the agreements between ATAS and the guilds.

Warnings were sent last week to ATAS chairman Dick Askin in response to the TV Academy’s March 17 announcement that the org may shift seven categories to the lower-profile Creative Arts ceremony.

The guild agreements, signed in April 2003 for eight Emmy telecasts, cover the granting of waivers for use of clips on the telecasts without payment of residuals. “The number of writing and directing awards on the Prime Time Emmy Award telecasts shall not be reduced from those listed on Schedule 1,” the pact reads in part.

DGA president Michael Apted and WGA West prexy Daniel Petrie Jr. asserted in letters sent March 15 that they strongly opposed the proposed moves. They met with Askin eight days later, then sent the warning letter.

On the chopping block: awards for writing, directing and supporting actor and actress in a TV movie/mini as well as trophies for performing, writing and directing for variety programs.

Should ATAS stick to its plan, the guilds could conceivably make the situation more awkward by declaring the agreement void and insisting on payment for all clips.

The TV Academy’s board of governors is expected to make a decision on the issue at its April 5 meeting. ATAS decided to look at ways to revamp the Prime Time Emmys after the kudofest suffered ratings declines in September; Askin has noted that the Acad hasn’t taken a critical look at the Emmy format since 1981.

“This is a very important issue to all constituents of the Academy, including our colleagues at the guilds,” an ATAS spokeswoman said Monday, “and our desire and intent is to have an open dialogue with key groups affected by any decision that may be made.

“As we stated before, our primary interest is to make the telecast as entertaining and engaging as possible while acknowledging the wonderful and talented people in our industry in the most appropriate way.”

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