Executive producer to oversee ABC telecast
The writers strike will be a distant memory by September, but this season’s work stoppage will still play a role in this year’s 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.That’s the word from awards show maven Ken Ehrlich, who is back for his fourth consecutive run as exec producer of the Emmy kudofest. Ehrlich said he hasn’t yet figured out how to address the work stoppage and its impact on the season, but “I know we certainly can’t ignore it.” The strike “not only happened, but it ultimately will affect the nominations,” Ehrlich said. “It’s going to be the elephant in the room. In a way, it could wind up making the show that much more interesting. There may be some surprises.” That’s partly because some shows, such as “24,” wound up missing the season entirely and most others will have had truncated seasons, limiting the pool of episodes available for submission. Also, a handful of skeins took the midseason off (“Heroes,” “Pushing Daisies”) and may not be top of mind when voters ink their Emmy ballots. “When things like this happen, for someone like me, who has been doing these shows for such a long time, it makes things interesting,” Ehrlich said. “It’s a whole different set of equations.” Ehrlich will steer the Primetime Emmys into a brand new home: The kudofest, which airs live Sept. 21, on ABC, will be broadcast for the first time from downtown’s new Nokia Theater. (The Emmys previously spent a decade at the Shrine Auditorium.) Ehrlich hasn’t yet handled a show from the new venue (which opened in October), but his production company informally consulted with Anschutz Entertainment Group in drawing up the Nokia’s plans. “It’s designed to be used as a TV facility as well as a live venue,” Ehrlich said. “It’s a big room, much wider than other theaters, including the Shrine. It’s going to be fun to break it in.” Ehrlich may also bring the show outside, perhaps with a performance in the L.A. Live courtyard. He did something similar on this year’s Grammy Awards show, when the Foo Fighters played in front of the Nokia (next to the Staples Center). One element he won’t bring back to this year’s show: the “theater in the round” stage, which was visually interesting onscreen but elicited plenty of complaints in the auditorium, particularly from aud members who had to watch presenters’ backs all night. “People who watched the show said it looked different and fresh,” he said. “But unfortunately, I’m not sure how fresh it was in the room. Maybe there’s a way to adapt some of the things we did.” Given that it’s the 60th edition of the Emmy kudofest, Ehrlich said he’s planning some features to take advantage of the anniversary. “I’ve been going through old Emmy telecasts for a while now and looking to try and tie the past together with the present,” he said. One thing he’s trying to avoid, however, is too many classic TV clips that have been burned out on previous specials (think those clips of Lucy and the candy conveyor belt or of the “Mary Tyler Moore” team hugging tightly in that show’s finale). “I’d love to think there are other clips we can uncover that are maybe seen a little less often,” he said. “Something a little fresher but will still pay tribute to what TV has meant.” As for the host selection, Ehrlich said it’s too soon to give a hint of who’s on his shortlist. But given that ABC is broadcasting the event, latenight gabber Jimmy Kimmel is likely somewhere near the top of that sheet. Ehrlich recently exec produced the 50th Annual Grammy Awards. His credits include creating and exec producing the MTV Movie Awards; countless music specials for artists such as Celine Dion; and the “Divas” music concerts. He has 28 Grammycasts under his belt as well. “Ken is a creative producer with a deep love of television, and we are glad and honored to have him back,” said Academy of TV Arts & Sciences chairman-CEO John Shaffner. The TV Acad will announce this year’s Emmy noms on July 17.