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The ‘In Memoriam’ challenge

At the Television Critics Assn. Panel devoted to the Primetime Emmys, the subject of the “In Memoriam” tribute – and in particular, the question of whether Andy Griffith might get special treatment – came up. Exec producer Don Mischer said different approaches were under consideration, but emphasized the inherent challenge of the segment.

“First of all, it’s very difficult to make decisions about who is included in the ‘In Memoriam’ package,” Mischer said. “The general practice is 34 to 36 names are included, and it’s very difficult because there are many more people who deserve to be included.

“All I can say is what we really try to do is identify those people who will create some sort of emotional response among viewers.”

Mischer said that the ‘In Memoriam’ moments are the ones he’s found viewers look forward to most. (You can put me in that camp, to the point where every second spent watching someone singing rather than paying respect to someone onscreen, no matter how moving the song, feels painful.)

Emmy host Jimmy Kimmel – whose real-life uncle and frequent “Jimmy Kimmel Live” player, Frank Potenza, was in last year’s montage – shares in the anticipation of the tributes, while taking note of the instinctive habit of comparing the level of applause to each tributetee. 

“I love that, even in death, you’re subject to a popularity contest,” Kimmel said.  

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