The downside to critically acclaimed awards shows is having to produce the next one.
Most awards shows are eviscerated by critics’ scalpels; last year’s Emmy ceremony, hosted by Jimmy Fallon and exec produced by Don Mischer, was a rare exception.
So following it, says Mark Burnett, producer of this year’s Sept. 18 kudocast, confers “a lot more pressure” on him.
“I’m so happy the Emmys were so well received last year, but it puts more pressure on me. I don’t feel the need to up it in any way, but I just want people watching it to enjoy it as much.”
It’s Burnett’s first whack at the Emmys after success with the MTV Movie Awards beginning in 2007 and the past two People’s Choice Awards. He’s best known, of course, for his hit reality programming, from CBS’ “Survivor” to NBC’s recent hit “The Voice.” He’s had reality skeins on each of the Big Four nets and a plethora of cablers.
After being named Emmy producer, Burnett immediately broke from tradition. Instead of hiring a standup comic or talkshow host to preside over the ceremony, he chose “Glee” star Jane Lynch. He made the decision with Fox, of course, which will telecast this year’s Emmys.
“I didn’t think of Jane as an outside-the-box choice,” explains Burnett, who says Lynch was his first choice. “I thought, Who is a real star, has done stage work, is very funny and can roll with the punches? It’s not a snarky night, it’s a fun night.”
That would seem to be in direct contrast to Lynch’s “Glee” character, Sue Sylvester, to whom withering insults come as naturally as breathing.
“If there’s any nod to Sue (in the show), it will be very minor,” Burnett vows.
Burnett calls live television “an adrenaline rush” and says he’ll be staying away from the chaos when putting the show together — or at least staying away as best as possible.
“I’ll be hiding in the truck, not knowing who’s going to win,” he says.
Most of the work will have been done before hand, Burnett says, making the production as pre-planned and incident-free as possible.
“You need an open, a couple of fun onstage music performances and some short films,” Burnett says of the keys to putting the show together. “Shorter pieces help with pace. They get you through the three hours.”
Burnett suggests the challenge now is to pare a wealth of material down to ceremony-size routines.
“It’s a matter of choosing what we’re going to do and what we can fit into those three hours,” he says. “The writers and Jane have come up with some incredible bits. We have more than we need.”
He adds with a smile, “Maybe we’ll save some for (next year’s) Emmys.”
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