Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And the thousands of winners are...

Who deserves an Emmy for producing a comedy or drama? It used to be easy. There were four or five of them – the show runner and those few writers who have worked their way up the ranks to producer. Now every show has more producers than West Virginia has registered voters. Stars get producer credits, in explicitly, so do their managers, non writing executives jump on the band wagon, studio executives horn-in on the credit, punch-up guys are now “consulting” producers, series directors join the act, and in lieu of studios giving writers bumps in salary they now just hand out producing titles. Yes, they’re making story editor money but they’re co-producers.

As a result, when a show wins Best Comedy or Drama it looks like the Normandy invasion as half the audience invades the stage to pick up their hardware. In an attempt to not deplete the world’s gold reserve the Academy has revised the rules and will now only allow eleven producers to be eligible for best comedy show Emmys and ten for dramas.

But then comes the question of which eleven of the say, twenty or fifty producers should be eligible?

Here are my thoughts. NO non-writing producers. These are all executive, not creative positions. Not saying that they don't have a role in the process but it's not in this area. Studio development people? Development is their JOB. They make calls. They come to meetings and just sit. They offer "support". And there's no "Best Supporting Producer" category. Directors? Sorry, this is the one medium you are not the king. And as for managers -- if the sum total of a manager's contribution is one time handing a pilot script to his client he does not deserve an Emmy (or the money he’s skimming off the show for doing nothing but that’s another story).

This is the bottom line: During a rewrite at 2 a.m., look around the room. Whoever is not there automatically should be eliminated (with one exception -- the line producer. He/she works harder than anybody, usually under the most impossible of conditions.) The non-writing producer who waltzes out at 6 to get to the Laker game? Disqualified. The actor who has no idea where the writers room is? Application denied. The studio exec whose only talent is doing a good Ari Gold impression? Not a chance.

Hopefully, when it’s just down to writers, ten or eleven slots will be enough. Consultants, by the way, don’t qualify. Full-time only. If the issue still isn’t settled then there’s only one way writers can resolve it, equitably -- taking into consideration seniority, contribution, loyalty – and throwing all that shit out. Nerf basketball! One-on-one. Round robin eliminations.

It's how writers make all major life decisions -- marriage, whether to go out on strike, which religion to believe it, etc.

I know what some of you are thinking -- isn't that a frivolous and irresponsible way to make important decisions? No. Not at all. But if you are concerned and want to settle these things in a more, shall we say, mature manner -- then I recommend Foosball.

Good luck to all the nominees in all the categories.

10 comments:

Mr.Peabody said...

I would have thought that winning awards for actual writing would be more important.

I'm just curious as I come from it more from a film perspective where 'producer' really isn't a creative role and is much more akin to your executives than writers.

Is there an Emmy for executives? What separates the producers from the writers in television?

Anonymous said...

I'm going with foosball. Less chance to get clobbered by an elbow.

-Nikki

Peter said...

Nerf Basketball? Schweet! Finally my high school athletic experience will start to pay off!

TheDennisMorganShow said...

The cog in this big wheel are entertainment lawyers. Like Mr. Peabody, I may have a different
prospective on the role of a producer. Generally speaking, a producer credit is common today in many (entertainment/employment services) contract provisions. Why? Among other things, protection.

I’m an old school exec and have been waste deep in creative projects (don’t forget salvaging) to merit a credit but never received nor asked for one. Protection? If you are fortunate enough to have a hyper-active career, sooner or later you will find yourself in a legal entanglement that may require depositions and/or a court appearance. And there’s the rub: The court appearance. Judges and jurors alike have been conditioned by litigators to the word ‘credit’ when hearing a entertainment biz case. The folks you refer to (managers, development execs, poobahs, etc.) probably had good lawyers and/or good boilerplate agreements. Going forward (say twenty-five years) at the very least their (thousands of winners) credibility is reinforced with a ‘credit’. If you’re involved in a ‘knock-down drag-em out’ (who can piss-up the taller tree) legal battle, the guy with the most ‘credit’ may win. In a courtroom you can go on and on about your resume, but brevity is king. And a ‘credit’ rules in open court. It’s no fun being out-lawyered buckaroos, but I have to admit–I envy those who scored (albeit non-deserved) credit points; thousands of winners may be the result of ‘good’ lawyering.

CJB said...

Why not have a seperate Emmy broadcast to present awards to the 'producers', 'associate producers', and 'hangers on'?

Best Chinese Food Procurer...
Best Yes Man...
Outstanding Achievements In Script Room Lounging...

Anonymous said...

Non-writing Producers... the kind that are completely NON-CREATIVE and are only there because they are former agents or network/studio execs that managed to attach themselves to someone else's creative endeavors make me sick to my stomach. I've worked with a bunch of these so-called "producers"... and I think it speaks volumes about their creative integrity that they would even allow themselves to be listed as an Emmy nominee... it's very easy to de-list yourself... only scum could stand there with an award that they didn't earn, while legitimate writers are left off the list because these parasites have more power. Pure scum.npcuq

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see an award for "notes."

Will Teullive said...

Instead of having 30 people on stage, 20 having as much to do with the show’s success as you and I, I’d like to see an award show for the worst TV shows. They can call it “The Steamies”.

It may take Dog the Bounty Hunter and his crew to round-up those responsible for “Emily Reasons Why Not” and “Happy Hour” and drag them on stage. But, at least the acceptance speeches will be short.

Beckylooo said...

I can't speak to half hours but as far as hour longs are concerned, I gotta disagree with you about directing producers. I worked for Scott Brazil for three years on The Shield. He was a huge part of the creative process. Not only would he have been deeply deserving of a lil statue had the academy had the good sense to nominate the show, he was easily more deserving than most of the writing producers.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

11 writer/producers seems too restricting to me. There are shows that employ far more than just that number. As I recall, Friends had 13 writers in its final season.

There's no better example than the Simpsons at season 19. From Al Jean to Daniel Chun, there are about 16 full-time writers involved. 5 of them would have to remain on their seats in the event of the show winning another comedy emmy.

I don't know about regular television directors, but they couldn't ignore creative contributions from producer/directors like Lost's Jack Bender or 24's Jon Cassar. In the case of the Simpsons, it's essential for people like David Silverman and Mark Kirkland to be standing at the podium. It's their prize too.