The Emmys live on, but not for everybody.
Now that they’ve finalized plans to shuffle the kudocast to Century City’s Shubert Theater on Nov. 4, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences officials will have to tear up invite lists and figure out who still gets to go — and who will watch the event at home.
The Emmys were slated to be telecast live from the Shrine Auditorium, first on Sept. 16 and then Oct. 7, until terrorist attacks and their aftermath delayed the event both times. The Shrine seats about 6,000, while the much smaller Shubert (recently home to musicals “Mamma Mia!” and “Kiss Me, Kate”) holds an audience of about 2,000.
Also, the post-Emmy Unity Dinner, which now will take place in the Century Plaza Hotel’s Los Angeles Ballroom, can accommodate only 1,800 attendees.
Although many TV execs, producers and stars have said they wouldn’t attend this year’s event, Academy officials expect they’ll still have to disinvite many audience members.
“This is going to be a hot ticket, because we can’t accommodate all requests,” said TV Academy prexy Jim Chabin.
Tickets will be reissued next week by priority. First on that list are nominees and their guests, followed by presenters, Academy officials and the blocks of tickets contractually allotted to the networks.
Org officials also will have to handle refund requests for those attendees who no longer have a seat or who don’t want to attend. Leftover tickets then will be assigned on a rationed basis.
“We like the Shubert in many respects,” said TV Academy chairman Bryce Zabel. “It’s an elegant location for the Emmys, but we will have to figure out a priority method for tickets. Those who cannot attend will receive financial refunds — but there will be a financial consequence to that. Obviously, the Academy will lose some money on this.”
Still, the Academy stood to lose even more, had the Emmys been scrubbed for good, Zabel said.
“Not having the Emmys at all would have been costly for everyone,” he said. “We all felt it was the right thing to do, independent of that issue.”
CBS president-CEO Leslie Moonves said the network and ATAS consulted with the White House before trying to schedule the Emmys for a third time. Moonves said the Bush administration encouraged them to go ahead with the event.
“Over and over again, we’re hearing it from the White House, we’re hearing it from the New York mayor, let’s get on with our normal lives,” Moonves said. “Broadway is going on, the World Series is going on, NFL is going on and we’re going on.”
Moonves said he wasn’t too concerned about competing against a potential seventh game of the World Series, noting the fall classic runs that long less than 20% of the time.
“We wanted to get it on as quickly as we could and still logistically make it possible,” he said.
Moonves and Zabel also said they don’t plan on pulling the Emmy plug at the last minute this time.
“I don’t want to say, ‘come hell or high water,’ but it’s really important that we do this show,” Moonves said.
Meanwhile, CBS and the Academy confirmed vet producer Gary Smith would take over production of this year’s telecast from Don Mischer; Smith will donate all of his salary to victims of the Sept. 11 tragedies.
Ellen DeGeneres will remain as host, and Walter Cronkite may open the broadcast, just as he was scheduled to do Oct. 7. Attendees again will be asked to skip the formal wear in favor of dressy business attire, while a muted red carpet also is expected to remain.
A New York simulcast, which had been set up for East Coast attendees leery about flying out west, didn’t make the cut, however.
As for the Emmys’ post-show gala — which had been redubbed the Unity Dinner for the Oct. 7 show — the Century Plaza Hotel’s Los Angeles Ballroom is accessible to the Shubert via a walkway running beneath the Avenue of the Stars.
Not only does the ballroom offer proximity, but as a frequent setting for presidential visits, it offers high security.
Party producer Cheryl Cecchetto of Sequoia Prods. — who joked about this being “my sixth Emmy party in four years” — said the sit-down dinner will be “respectful and lovely.”
A completely new design won’t be created for the new venue; rather, the motif will incorporate elements from the canceled Shrine parties. The Century Plaza staff will cater the dinner.
(Bill Higgins contributed to this report.)