Emmys enshrined

Ceremony ankles Pasadena over capacity issue

The Primetime Emmy Awards are moving from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, their home for the past two decades, to the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles for this year’s 50th anniversary Emmy presentation in September. The event will be telecast on NBC.

However, the site of the Emmys after this year still remains up in the air, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences prexy Meryl Marshall acknowledged.

“We’re negotiating for a longer-term deal, but as of the moment our commitment to the Shrine is only for this year,” Marshall said. “Quite honestly, we just don’t know. But our need for a larger venue than the Pasadena Civic is there, and there are very few places that hold the kind of capacity we need.”

The lack of seating capacity was the driving force behind departing the Civic, Marshall added. The Civic has a capacity of slightly over 2,800, while the Shrine can accommodate about 6,000.

“With the number of industry executives and nominees, we simply outgrew the Pasadena Civic,” Marshall said. “Particularly for our 50th year celebration, we didn’t want to have to turn away people like we did last year. We had more than 500 people who wanted to attend the Emmys but couldn’t in 1997.”

The Emmys have been held at the Pasadena Civic for the past 21 years. Prior to 1977, the ceremony originated from the Pantages Theater in Hollywood.

By relocating to the Shrine, frequent site of the Academy Awards, Marshall maintained that “everyone will be accommodated now. We figured we needed a minimum of 3,500 seats.”

Indeed, the increased capacity will enable the TV Academy to set aside a limited number of seats for purchase by the general public for the first time. Marshall said that number hasn’t been determined yet but would likely be “somewhere around 1,000” tickets.

“If you go through the streets of Pasadena the day of the Emmys, you see fans who have stood there waiting for hours and hours to catch a glimpse,” Marshall said. “We have every reason to think these people would prefer to be inside.”

The non-televised portion of the Emmys will remain at the Pasadena Civic, Marshall said.

Marshall said that negotiations for a new network contract to televise the Primetime Emmys beyond 1998 have not yet officially begun. But Marshall was confident that process would commence soon.