There’s no place to go but up for Primetime Emmy producer Don Mischer.
CBS — the broadcast home for this year’s kudocast — and the TV Academy have been mum so far on how this latest Emmy ceremony might look. But facing what could be another brutal year for ratings, the network, org and Mischer are kicking around several ideas to breathe new life into the show.
Among the possibilities are fewer awards handed out during the show, as well as a return to a more traditional host. In other words, it’s probably safe to say that reality show presenters need not apply.
Last year’s Emmy ceremony (on ABC) is widely considered the low point of the award show’s 60-year history. In what might have sounded good on paper, the kudos were hosted by Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Jeff Probst and Ryan Seacrest. But in practice, shoving all five reality hosts onstage at the same time was nothing short of a disaster.
The quintet didn’t even bother to prepare an opening bit — which, in what was possibly the most misguided decision in Emmy history — became the basis of their opening bit.
“We got nothing,” they told the audience. In fact, truer words had never been uttered on the Primetime Emmy ceremony.
Nearly a year after that mess, CBS and the TV Academy are well aware that they better have something.
Among the changes on the table: a long-discussed move of some categories into the Creative Arts Emmy ceremony. The Emmys continue to award more categories on air than any other major awards show: 28. That usually leads to a tedious broadcast and little room for entertainment.
Under consideration have been plans to move some TV movie and miniseries awards and to give CBS and Mischer more flexibility in deciding which categories should appear, depending on their nominees. (A similar system has been used for years with the Grammys, also telecast on the Eye.)
The org faces potential blowback from industry players whose categories would be moved out of primetime, however.
“The number of awards presented on air and the manner in which they are presented will not be determined until the Academy, its broadcast partner CBS and the producer have had an opportunity to fully evaluate and agree upon them,” the Acad’s board of governors said in a statement earlier this year.
As for the host, there’s much speculation that the gig will go to Craig Ferguson, who scores critical acclaim as the star of the CBS latenight gabber “Late Late Show.”
In hiring back Mischer, the show will once again rely on a kudocast vet who has produced eight Emmy ceremonies and earned 13 Emmys himself.
Experience, of course, doesn’t necessarily guarantee an Emmycast for the ages; previous Emmy producer Ken Ehrlich is well-respected but still presided over last year’s mess.
“It was hideously awful from start to harried finish,” USA Today critic Robert Bianco said.
Bianco adds that the Emmy producers need to cleanse themselves of recent misfires (remember the “American Idol” riff, in which stars like Donald Trump crooned TV theme songs?) and strip the show back down to the basics this year.
“I would return some dignity to the process,” Bianco says. “We all enjoy making fun of TV. But on a night where you’re trying to honor the best in the medium, put the snark away and try to convince us that these people deserve it.”