Emmys Abandon Time-Shift Plans

More than 100 writers, producers and directors registered their displeasure about the time-shift plans in a letter to the Academy

After a vociferous backlash from Hollywood writers, directors and actors, a proposed plan to time-shift eight award categories during the Emmy telecast has been abandoned, according to a statement from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Wednesday.

The WGA, DGA and SAG, as well as HBO, which traditionally dominates the documentary and movie and miniseries categories, registered their immediate displeasure at the scheme, which would have re-packaged pre-taped awards for some categories.

"This decision was made to mend relationships within the television community and to allow executive producer Don Mischer to focus his full attention on producing the creative elements in the telecast," said Television Academy Chairman-CEO John Shaffner in making the announcement. "Our goal is to celebrate the year in television, honor excellence and this year's great achievements with the support of our industry colleagues and our telecast partner, CBS."

The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) released separate statements on Wednesday voicing approval for the reversal.

"This is good news," read the WGAE statement. "We're pleased the Academy listened to the writers' concerns."

"We look forward to developing a more collaborative relationship between the Writers Guild and the Academy," said the WGAW statement.

Additionally, SAG released a statement praising the TV Academy's decision to "continue the Emmys’ practice of providing full recognition to the nominees and recipients within the live telecast. We look forward to this year’s show."

According to a report on The Wrap, one of the pressure tactics was the guilds intention to charge CBS, which will broadcast the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 21, and the TV Academy full price for clips if the time shifting scheme was not scrapped. That could have added a hefty $500,000 to the price of the telecast.

The awards to be time-shifted included best movie and miniseries; writing for drama series, movie and miniseries; directing for variety, music and comedy series; and supporting actor and actress in a movie and miniseries.

The plan was met with immediate disapproval from the creative community with more than 100 writers, producers and directors registering their displeasure in a letter to the TV Academy.

"This decision conveys a fundamental understatement of the importance of writers in the creation of television programming and a symbolic attack on the primacy of writing in our industry," the letter stated.

The WGA also weighed in last week, saying that the proposed action was a "clear violation of a longstanding agreement the Writers Guilds have with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences regarding their awards telecast."

"It is also a serious demotion for writing and a fundamental misunderstanding of the importance of writers in the creation of television programs," the letter continued. "Last year's Emmys suffered a tremendous decline in quality and ratings because of a lack of scripted material. That the Academy would then decide to devalue the primary and seminal role that writing plays in television is ridiculous and self-defeating."