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The Emmys Snub Writers … Again

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They threatened to do it in 2005. They reconsidered. Now the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences again threatens not to air some of their most important awards live. They need to reconsider again.

Jeff Greenstein, currently a writer/producer on the upcoming Parenthood, formerly with Desperate Housewives, and a long-time Emmy judge, said the news was the talk of the writers' room. "I find it ironic that the year after the skit with the five reality show hosts saying 'we got nothing' – the biggest bomb in Emmy history – that they’d kick the writing awards off the show."

The Academy calls it "time-shifting." Selected awards – drama and long-form writing included, according to Variety – will be presented prior to this year's event, with segments edited into the the telecast.

The goal is to make a more entertaining ceremony by eliminating "lengthy walks to the stage" and other gaps, such as the reading of the nominees. However they spin it, the decision to not present certain awards live is an indication of priority. Think of the Creative Emmys, aka the Poor Cousins.

In 2005, the Academy decided a similar plan wouldn't save much time after all. (Pressure from the affected Guilds might have helped them come to that realization.) That year, House creator David Shore won the writing award for drama while Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely of Arrested Development won for comedy, and their acceptance speeches were the funniest of the telecast. It turns out TV writers are pretty good at writing speeches. Now they have to be more entertaining as they walk to the podium? 

Here's why writing categories should always have a prominent place at the preeminent awards celebrating TV: writers run television. They create, they produce, they have input into every facet of a series. Oh yeah, and they write all those actions and words performed by the Outstanding Actors in those Outstanding Shows.

With nominations in some categories expanded to six instead of the usual five this year, there's no question CBS and the Academy need to trim. What they choose to trim is telling.

"It sure looks like the networks, through the TV Academy, are tired of cablers like HBO and now AMC running away with the awards night again and again," pointed out Flashpoint writer Adam Barken. "Why 'time-shift' Dramatic One Hour writers (being the most popular scripted format on TV), but not Comedic Half Hour — it wouldn't have anything to do the fact that the One Hour will go to Mad Men, while Comedic Half Hour will go to 30 Rock, would it?"

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About Diane Kristine Wild