Emmys nominees: DVD screeners make ‘Raymond’ early adopter

Emmy appeals turn high-tech

While “Everybody Loves Raymond” had already made a place for itself in the hearts of Academy of Television Arts & Sciences voters (15 nominations, including a win for lead actress Patricia Heaton in 2000), the CBS sitcom carved out a niche in Emmy campaign history this year with the high-tech move of sending out screeners of the show on DVD as well as videotape.

“I thought that DVD looks fantastic,” exec producer Phil Rosenthal says simply of the inspiration for going with the format. “I’m a big kind of techno geek when it comes to that technology; I’ve got HDTV and DVD in my home.”

Drawing attention to the cinematography and other tech work that went into the location shoot for the season opener “Italy” was also a factor, says Rosenthal, adding, “This was a good way to stand out from the pack.” (“Raymond’s” eight noms this season include three tech mentions: cinematography for a multicamera series, multicamera picture editing and outstanding multicamera sound mixing.)

“Raymond” producer HBO Independent Prods. paid for the added cost of the DVDs by taking money out of the show’s print campaign.

The “Raymond” disc was joined by Columbia TriStar Television’s DVD for CBS’ drama “Family Law,” which did not mail out videos. The show picked up one nomination, for Dana Delany as guest actress. CTIT declined to comment on its use of the format for the screener.

DVDs have become increasingly common for Oscar voters, but campaigners for the small-screen statuette are holding off so far on the format.

The main issue? DVD player penetration. As the DVD becomes more of a staple in home entertainment centers, program promoters see the digital disc playing a bigger role in promotional campaigns.

Cablers A&E and TNT went with tapes even though their respective longforms “Horatio Hornblower” and “Nuremberg,” both Emmy telepic contenders, were eventually adapted into DVD for purchase and rental.

“Based on research we’ve seen, videotapes were the best way to go,” says A&E senior VP of marketing Michael Mohamad. “The format really doesn’t concern us at this time. What we want to make sure is that everyone who’s getting them has the equipment to see them.

“Next year, we will assess what the marketplace is showing in terms of the acceptance of the DVD. We will go along with what the consumers want and the Academy (voters) are consumers.”

So while next year’s Emmy campaigns’ use of the DVD may hinge on a busy holiday season for manufacturers of the players, the format already has at least one devotee.

“I hope everybody does it on DVD; they look and sound better, it’s that simple,” says “Raymond’s” Rosenthal. “And I do not own any stock in any DVD companies.”

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