Guild takes gentler tone in making protest

The Screen Actors Guild has joined the DGA and WGA in opposing the TV Academy’s plans to trim the Emmy Awards — but taken a far milder tone.

“Screen Actors Guild remains concerned about the recommended modifications which, if enacted, could reduce the level of recognition that our members and other talent have come to expect and appreciate through your program,” said SAG interim national exec director David White in a letter sent Thursday to Academy of TV Arts & Sciences topper John Shaffner.

White requested that the Acad “review further the proposed changes and with input from the talent guilds arrive at a mutually acceptable solution.”

White noted he penned the letter following a conversation with Shaffner. The missive acknowleged the “pressures” facing the TV Academy in the current economic climate and made no mention of SAG’s arrangement with ATAS, which allows free use of clips via a waiver of the contract provisions covering clips.

Both the DGA and the WGA have indicated that the proposed changes — which would see eight of the awards telecast on a tape-delay basis — would violate their respective longstanding agreements with the TV Academy.

SAG’s letter comes a week after the firestorm began when Daily Variety broke the story about ATAS’ plan to pre-tape award presentations in eight categories in the 45 minutes before the 5 p.m. PT live telecast begins. Don Mischer, exec producer of the Sept. 20 show on CBS, confirmed that in a later press release.

Vid clips of those presentations, including a listing of nominees in each category, will be edited down and interspersed in the live broadcast.

Mischer has said the move was an effort to boost ratings for the kudocast by giving more time to highlight mainstream TV hits, big moments in television during the past 12 months and other viewer-friendly elements.

Earlier this week, Mischer told reporters gathered at a TV Critics Assn. press tour sesh devoted to the Emmys that much of the freed-up time would be used to show longer clips of popular TV fare, nominated and not nominated. He also later told reporters that the TV Academy hadn’t ruled out the possibility that it might end up having to pay for some clips.

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