Celebs to croon TV tunes at Emmys

Trump, Shatner, Mullally to compete

Hoping to rejuvenate interest in this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards, producers are borrowing a ploy from reality TV.

In a contest dubbed “Emmy Idol,” stars including Donald Trump, William Shatner and Megan Mullally have been tapped to perform classic TV theme songs throughout the telecast. Viewers will vote either by text messaging or logging on to CBS’ Web site, with the winner announced at the end of the show.

The Emmycast’s newfound music presence will also extend to the start of the show, as the Black Eyed Peas team with Earth, Wind & Fire to accompany an opening montage.

As the groups perform a version of the classic Earth, Wind & Fire track “September” (which begins with the line “Do you remember?”), highlights from the previous TV season will be screened.

The “Emmy Idol” performances, along with the opening number, significantly alters the traditional shape of the kudofest. Because the TV Academy has only three hours to hand out 27 Emmys in its primetime telecast, there’s usually only room for a few comedy bits sprinkled throughout. But following last year’s major ratings decline, the Acad and CBS tapped exec producer Ken Ehrlich to give the show a new look.

Ehrlich, who has produced many Grammy Awards and other music showcases, said he keyed in on TV theme songs, which he called “nearly as memorable as the shows connected to them.

“By jogging memories as well as creating wonderful moments by having them performed on this year’s Emmy show, we think we’re giving viewers one more reason to tune in and be entertained,” Ehrlich said.

Trump and Mullally will team to perform the theme from “Green Acres,” while Shatner has been paired with opera star Fredrica von Stade to perform the “Star Trek” theme. Also, “Veronica Mars” star Kristen Bell will sing the theme song from “Fame,” while “CSI’s” Gary Dourdan will perform “The Jeffersons” theme song (“Movin’ on Up”) with Grammy winner Macy Gray.

Meanwhile, the TV Academy, CBS and Ken Ehrlich Prods. said presenters and performers will wear magnolias — the state flower of both Louisiana and Mississippi — in memory of the victims and in honor of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

Information on how viewers can make donations to the relief effort will also be provided throughout the kudocast. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the devastating and tragic hurricane that has hit the Gulf Coast states,” the network, Academy and producer said in a statement.

Ellen DeGeneres — a native of the New Orleans — will host the 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which airs Sept. 18 on CBS.

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