Saturday, September 12, 2009

And the thousand Emmy winners are...

Thanks to all of you for your heartfelt sentiments regarding Larry. They mean a lot. I'll have my thoughts ready Sunday night. Meanwhile...

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, inexplicitly, 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. I'll be reviewing the EMMYS September 20th.

Registration for the SITCOM ROOM opens at 9 a.m. PDT Monday. 20 spots only. Hope to see you there.

9 comments:

Richard Cooper said...

Yes! The awards shows *have* looked a little ridiculous whenever an army of slightly inebriated producers crowd behind the real writers on stage, breathing down each other's sweaty evening wear and grinning like they just hit the jackpot at a gas station outside Reno.

Hope said...

Hi Mr. Levine,

Great post, as always.

A question: is there a way that you know of that's legitimate or legitimate enough to watch the Emmys online from a country that doesn't air them?

Thanks!

A line producer said...

Ken,

As a veteran line producer, I am gratified that you recognize the value of what I and my fellow line producers do. Lately, what I do is often not appreciated. Too bad our paths never crossed. I would have loved to have worked with you and David.

sephim said...

I'm amazed nobody has taken the chance to have a large group of people in various costumes - janitor, ballerina, spaceman, gorilla, etc - and seemingly emerge from behind curtains/backstage/trapdoor/abseiling from rafters once a winner is named. Fuck it, why not during an 'in memoriam'?

Anonymous said...

Now that that's settled -- what about the acceptance speeches rules? How about having the important agents and lawyers etc.. people he/she wants (i.e. needs or gets in trouble) to thank in a list displayed on screen, underneath their image, like a sports "stats" sheet? And they can only give a thanks speech, no plugging. And only stars can thank their mothers and fathers or wives and say good night to their children who stayed up to watch this....

sirvan said...

impressive.. too crowded waiting who will get an award.

Eric said...

Do you think a "Best Show-Runner" Emmy would make sense?

anonymousassistant said...

I'm glad you mentioned the Line Producer, too. Definitely one of the hardest jobs in the business.

Anonymous said...

eh, how about this rule: NO NON-PRODUCING PRODUCERS! The writers are the ones who started this bullshit by asking for producer credits when they were just writers. There's already a category for writing, aren't you happy with that? you want to get in on all the other categories too?