Peter Tolan irreverent at Hitmakers luncheon

Says TV critics, not industry, should vote for Emmys

As a onetime member of the TV Academy’s board of governors, “Rescue Me” exec producer Peter Tolan made a case for tossing out the org’s Emmy-voting process.

Tolan’s idea: Get the nation’s TV critics to choose Emmy winners.

“Most of us are too damn busy to watch TV, and we’re making uneducated decisions,” said Tolan, explaining why Emmy nominations and winners usually contain several head-scratchers. “TV critics, their job is to watch this stuff.”

Tolan took on the TV Academy — and even more brutally, eviscerated the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and its Golden Globes kudos — at the Hollywood Radio and TV Society’s Hitmakers luncheon, which he moderated.

Panelist Kurt Sutter, who famously trashed the Emmys after his FX drama “Sons of Anarchy” wasn’t nominated this summer, mostly held his punches this time. But Sutter argued that the award is more a popularity contest than a true reflection of TV’s top creative achievements. “Which shows are my friends working on? That’s how I vote,” he said.

“Burn Notice” exec producer Matt Nix was more optimistic that voting patterns would change over time but added that he didn’t think there was a perfect solution. “I don’t think there is a voting system that will reflect what we want them to reflect,” Nix said.

For his part, Sutter said he was more satisfied with his nomination from the TV Critics Assn.

Tolan said his proposal didn’t go anywhere during his time on the TV Academy board. And his critics idea probably wouldn’t find many fans among execs at the broadcast networks that air the Emmys.

As negotiations continue to renew the org’s “wheel” deal with ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, network execs continue to complain that the Emmycast is increasingly awarding shows that aren’t broad hits. In recent years, that’s meant shows like “Mad Men” and “30 Rock,” both critics faves that don’t attract large audiences.

According to insiders, a new wheel deal is likely to be worked out — but the TV Academy isn’t expected to receive a license fee bump. Actually, should the TV Acad maintain its current $7.5 million annual license fee from the nets, that would be seen as a victory for the org.

Tolan didn’t hold back on his comedic disdain for the Globes, calling the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. a group that “can be bought,” among other choice comments.

Coincidentally, the panel discussion was being held at the Beverly Hilton, in the same ballroom where the Globes ceremony is held.The outspoken Tolan began the lunch by lamenting that his two favorite executive punching bags — former ABC Entertainment prexy Steve McPherson and outgoing NBC Universal boss Jeff Zucker — are now out of work.

“Two of the biggest clubs have been taken out of my bag,” he said.

Among other topics, Tolan asked “NCIS” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” exec producer Shane Brennan what the biggest difference is in working in the U.S. vs. Australia, where he started his career.

“Money,” Brennan answered, without a beat.Tolan also asked Sutter, who’s married to actress Katey Sagal (also a star of “Sons of Anarchy”), what it was like to be married to a thesp.

“(Actresses) are a bottomless pit of need,” Tolan quipped. “Who in their right mind would want to go home to that at night?”

But Sutter noted that he wasn’t such a joy to be around at home.

“I come home and she’s still there, so I’m excited,” he said.

Asked about his “Hawaii Five-0” reboot, exec producer Roberto Orci — who also relaunched the “Star Trek” feature franchise with partner Alex Kurtzman — said that nonetheless, he believes that “some things shouldn’t be remade.”

“It’s about picking the right material and the right people to bring it back to life,” he said.Asked about juggling network vs. cable shows, Nix, whose “Burn Notice” runs on USA and “The Good Guys” airs on Fox, said he’s found it more difficult to keep both networks feeling like they’re in first position.

Sutter, meanwhile, said he’s not sure he’s cut out for the broadcast world.

“Every pitch I’ve done at the major networks has resulted in them calling security,” he joked.

Then there’s “iCarly” exec producer Dan Schneider, who found himself defending Nickelodeon from Tolan’s comedic barbs.

“I think Nickelodeon is some sort of hothouse for child abuse,” Tolan joked. “The Chinese government has nothing on Nickelodeon. Clearly, I’m not pitching anything to Nick.”

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