Informal negotiations taking place for new TV deal
The Emmys have a date. Now all it needs is a network pact.The Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Nokia Theater in the L.A. Live complex, has locked in Sept. 18 for the next Primetime Emmy fete. Date doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as the kudocast is usually held on the Sunday just before the fall TV season begins. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has already had discussions with the Big Four networks, which have traditionally rotated the show annually among themselves. Attorney Ken Ziffren is onceagain repping ATAS in the discussions with the Big Four. The last Emmy contract expired after last year’s show. The eight-year pact, signed in 2002, was worth $50 million to the Academy, with the host net paying a $6.5 million license fee. For all the talk of the Emmys possibly heading to cable, it’s expected that the rotation and the pricetag will stay basically the same in the next pact. It’s believed that the sticking points revolve around the broadcast nets’ displeasure with the strictures of the show’s format. Execs have not been shy about complaining that the Emmycast devotes a good deal of time to the presentation of longform awards, a category dominated by HBO. And then there are the creative community faction politics, which erupted two years ago when the Acad tried to streamline the presentation of some writing and directing awards with a proposal to record them early and “time-shift” them. Those issues and more will make for ticklish contract talks in the coming months. The subject is likely to come up during ATAS’ regularly skedded board of governors meeting on Wednesday night. During the 2002 negotiations, when the nets balked at the Acad’s demand for a license fee hike from the $3 million they had been paying, HBO stepped in with an offer of a whopping $10 million per year — which spurred the Big Four to open their wallets. HBO execs have made it clear they will not be a stalking horse for Emmy rights this time around, though they will surely protest any major changes to the longform presentation given the pay cabler’s commitment to the genre. Working in the Academy’s favor is that viewership of the Emmys has been on the rise the past two years — last year’s Jimmy Fallon-hosted Emmys on NBC averaged 13.5 million viewers — since the 2008 edition took a drubbing from critics and the biz.