Producer pledges to avoid radical changes to kudocast

Don’t expect radical changes to the upcoming Emmy Awards, though first-time executive producer Mark Burnett will make some tweaks including lightening up the “In Memoriam” portion.

Burnett gave a few glimpses of what’s to come but was mostly mum in a TCA press tour panel Friday in which he was joined by John Shaffner, chairman/CEO of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and host Jane Lynch, from “Glee.”

“It’s not broke, i don’t need to fix it,” said Burnett of the Emmys, who was joined in his praise of last year’s show by his panelists.

But Burnett drew nervous laughter from the audience when asked about “In Memoriam,” a portion that is typically a solemn montage recognizing figures from the television industry who died over the past 12 months.

“It doesn’t need to be a bummer,” said Burnett of the segment, triggering titters from assembled press.

Seeing the reaction to his description, Burnett clarified what he meant by saying the segment could go beyond the customary montage and focus on the work that is the legacy of the honored dead. “It can be a celebration of what was left behind,” he elaborated.

All in all, Burnett identified the biggest change to the show would be the insertion of more humorous segments that will keep the pace of the evening’s three hours moving along.

“The best way to do the show is a lot of shorter bits so it keeps moving along,” said Burnett. “I think award shows, if they’re just about giving awards, they can slow down.”

The Emmys, which drew a total audience last year of 13.5 million that stayed even with its 2009 ratings, will be supported by a social-media campaign and a backstage system of video cameras supplying content online similar to what the previous Academy Awards did, including a “thank you cam” for winners who forget to show their appreciation to take another shot at it during commercials.

Asked whether her humor would be as cutting as Ricky Gervais, who was widely criticized for taking things too far at the last Golden Globes, Lynch suggested hers was a kinder, friendlier hosting style. “We don’t have that snarkiness that Ricky has, though I was a huge fan of it,” she said.

Burnett suggested the overall tone of the show couldn’t get too risque but that the edginess Fox brings as a brand relative to the other broadcasters would allow for some liberties to be taken. “You can jump off the cliff at MTV,” he said, referring to his past stint producing the MTV Movie Awards. “At Fox, you can lean over, look down and just about fall off.”

Lynch, however, warned that she won’t spend too much time in the guise of her “Glee” character. “I think a little bit of Sue Sylvester goes a long way,” she said. “I think we’ll leave her track suit on the Paramount lot.”

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