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Inside Move: Emmy voters can’t miss ‘Chris’

Acad members to receive entire first season on DVD

“Everybody Hates Chris” is getting some major Emmy love from its studio.

In a first for a broadcast network show, CBS Paramount Network Television has decided to send all 12,000 TV Academy members the entire first season of “Chris” on DVD. What’s more, voters won’t even have to wait until the Chris Rock-produced UPN skein wraps its season next month: The discs will begin arriving in their mailboxes this week.

Studio is taking a page from sibling Showtime, which earlier this year sent out multiple episodes of some of its Emmy contenders well in advance of Emmy deadlines. But with 22 episodes of “Chris” being distribbed, the CBS Par mailing reps the first time Emmy voters will have access to so many episodes of a broadcast series.

CBS Par TV exec VP of communications John Wentworth said the studio wants to reignite the buzz that surrounded the show’s launch last fall.

“The proof is in the programming,” he said. “We know that when the show launched, the critics raved about it and the industry buzz was palpable. We thought it would be appropriate to not only get the first season to (voters), but to get it to them early so that they’d have a chance to truly digest the shows.”

Studios like Touchstone and 20th don’t have to worry about voters seeing skeins on big networks such as ABC and Fox. By contrast, while “Chris” is a hit, it airs on the much smaller UPN — a fact that no doubt played a role in the CBS Par decision to send out the full season of the show.

To further catch Emmy voters’ attention, CBS Par is sending the screeners in an elaborate container that resembles a milk carton. Box contains a pic of “Chris” star Tyler Williams, along with the tagline “Have You Seen Chris?”

Mailing is timed to coincide with a consumer-driven publicity campaign surrounding Thursday’s episode of “Chris,” the first directed by Rock.

Studios such as Warner Bros. TV and 20th have avoided mailing out whole seasons of shows due to piracy concerns. CBS Par execs, however, believe the potential benefits of the mailing outweigh any potential risks. What’s more, all of the discs contain the usual antipiracy warnings.

How much is CBS Par spending on the mailing? Wentworth wouldn’t give out details. “But it’s not a cheap proposition,” he said.