Category Archives: Award Shows

No one watched a great Emmys telecast, which really shouldn’t surprise us

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The 2016 Emmys were, quite objectively, a well-produced show.

They came in on time, helped by a couple of absent acting winners. They included a meaningful number of surprises, including wins for young stars Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) and Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), to help offset the predictable series wins for Veep and Game Of Thrones. They had a dynamic host in Jimmy Kimmel, who managed the combination of prepared bits and contextual quips admirably. They had a diverse array of winners, and Academy president Bruce Rosenblum used his speech to call attention to below-the-line workers, bringing out two craft winners from the Creative Arts ceremonies for a deserved round of applause. They even managed to find a way to mount specific In Memoriam tributes to television greats—the Garrys, Shandling and Marshall—without making the evening too somber. While there are winners I’d quibble with, there was nothing in the narrative of the evening that to me demonstrates a failing on the part of the producers.

The 2016 Emmys were also, objectively, the lowest-rated ever.

This dichotomy has to be frustrating for producers, who put on a show that I would identify as a successful celebration of television as a medium, but who were summarily punished for that. And so as CBS prepares to mount its latest version of the Emmys next year, the question becomes whether or not parties involved believe that there is a need to change the central goals of the Emmys to draw larger audiences.

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Making A Point?: Transparent, Gina Rodriguez, and Visibility at the Golden Globes

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Upon accepting her Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama Series, The Affair’s Ruth Wilson shared the story of her first Golden Globe nomination for the 2007 miniseries, Jane Eyre. That nomination came in the year of the Writer’s Strike, when the 2008 Golden Globes were announced in an Entertainment Tonight-style telecast as opposed to the lavish Beverly Hilton celebration we have come to associate with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual “kudos.”

My first reaction to Wilson’s story was a little bit of shock at her bluntness at admitting she had been disappointed to lose that award (to Queen Latifah)—that’s rare. However, upon reflection, her callback to that particular year puts the meaning of this year’s Golden Globes and my shifting relationship with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in perspective.

There are likely a wide range of political reasons why the Golden Globes were unable to negotiate for the waiver that could have saved the 2008 ceremony, and given that the Oscars faced a likely boycott had the strike not ended it’s not as though the HFPA were alone in their contention with the WGA regarding the place of award show broadcasts during the strike (only the SAG Awards, due to Guild solidarity, won a waiver). However, something about the Golden Globes seemed particularly at odds with the climate in Hollywood during the writer’s strike: when the city of Los Angeles is dotted with picket lines, it seems weird to throw a lavish party at the Beverly Hilton.

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Pandering to the Demo: The Critics’ Choice Television Awards

I’ve known about the existence of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association for a while now, and it’s always struck me as a bit odd. Seemingly an alternative to the Television Critics’ Association, although some of the members actually hold membership in both organizations, the BTJA “has been formed as a collective voice to represent the professional interests of those who regularly cover television for TV viewers, radio listeners and online audiences as well.”

This sounds all well and good, but it seems pretty obvious to me that someone like TV Line’s Michael Ausiello doesn’t have any issues getting access to either stars or content, and the same goes for members representing TV Guide, AOL, or Access Hollywood. For these people, the second part of the BTJA’s mandate seems like the true raison d’etre: “BTJA will also present the Critics’ Choice Television Awards to honor the finest achievements on networks and channels big and small.”

The nominees for the first annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards were released this morning, and my Twitter stream lit up with excitement over nominations for shows criminally overlooked by the Emmys in previous years. I saw tweets from excited bloggers, excited fans, excited executives, and even excited nominees. And yet, when I went to actually look at the nominees, my response was more apprehension than excitement.

Now, my issue is not so much with who/what was nominated, but rather how those people/shows were nominated. Essentially, I consider the Critics’ Choice Television Awards to be a large-scale extension of “Dream Emmy Ballot” pieces, an outlet through which an individual or group can increase their own profile by pandering to fans of particular programs by including them and pointing out that the Emmys will never do the same. This is not an effort to create a more transparent or accurate nomination process, nor does it place any pressure on the Academy to revamp the Emmy Awards process: all it does is use the lure of awards glory to gain our attention.

And while it’s nice to see someone pandering to my demo for a change, that doesn’t mean that we should be partying in the streets.

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Endangered Species: What the Emmy Merge Means for the Miniseries Form

Endangered Species: The Emmy Merge and the Miniseries Form

February 25th, 2011

It is not particularly surprising to learn that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is merging the Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Made-for-Television Movie categories at this year’s Emmy Awards.

While I am sure that many will consider this part of a larger attack on cable’s dominance in both categories in light of ongoing negotiations with the networks, the concern here seems to be largely practical. There have not been five nominations in the Outstanding Miniseries category since 2004, and in the past two years only two miniseries warranted a nomination due to the complete lack of competition in the category. While the Made-for-TV Movie has been able to pull together 5-6 nominees each year during the same period, let’s not pretend that Why I Wore Lipstick to my Masectomy deserved to be nominated alongside Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. By merging the two categories into a six-nominee pack, you will solve both the concern over quantity in Miniseries and the (lesser) concern over quality in Made-for-TV Movie.

However, ignoring practicality for a moment, is this actually logical? On the one hand, I think that award show logic has to be concerned about issues of practicality, and streamlining these awards will in some ways appease the networks who worry about Cable’s dominant presence within the Emmy Awards broadcast. However, what does it mean for a Miniseries to compete against a Made-for-TV Movie? Does the longer format of a Miniseries give it a distinct advantage over its shorter counterparts? Or does the succinctness of a Made-for-TV Movie make it more likely to resonate with voters who likely don’t have time to spend five or six hours to spend watching a true long form narrative?

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All Alone in the Moonlight: The Muddled Memory-Making of the 2011 Grammy Awards

The Muddled Memory-Making of the 2011 Grammys

February 13th, 2011

Tonight, the Grammy Awards opened with an extended retrospective. As a collection of contemporary female vocalists paid tribute to the music of Aretha Franklin, it established that this was a night to reflect on Grammy history. It was a narrative picked up by Miranda Lambert’s performance of “The House That Built Me” later in the show, which she dedicated to those performers who came before (and who appeared on the screens behind her in a nostalgia-tinged multimedia component), and cemented with a “rare performance” from Barbra Streisand and Mick Jagger’s first ever Grammy performance.

However, earlier in the show, Lady Gaga took to the stage to perform her brand new single, “Born this Way.” Although one could claim that this too is a bit of history, given that the song borrows liberally from Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” the song premiered only last week. In another performance, a trio of young performers (Bruno Mars, Janelle Monae, and B.O.B.) were introduced by Ryan Seacrest as being the next generation of Grammy legends, albeit in a performance which had a definite tinge of nostalgia given Bruno Mars’ black-and-white, Jackson Five throwback performance of “Grenade.”

It’s no secret that the Grammys have long ago stopped being an “awards show,” having transitioned into a concert event so blatantly that everyone noticed (if you’ll forgive me the inversion of a classic Simpsons line). However, during tonight’s show (and especially given the few hours I spent half watching the non-televised portion of the awards online), I realized the degree to which this shift has seemingly been designed to disguise the fact that the Grammys, more than any other awards show, utterly fails at capturing the last year in its respective medium.

And how, despite some unquestionable success at making the show “memorable,” it sort of confounds the notion of memory altogether.

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Funhouse Transparency: The 2011 Oscar Nominations

The 2011 Oscar Nominations

January 25th, 2011

On Twitter, I suggested that I was relatively bored with this morning’s Oscar nominations…or, more accurately, I tweeted “Oscar nods = yawn,” which frankly says more about how much I enjoy being up at 7:30 in the morning than it does about the nominations themselves.

Still, though, I must admit to being fairly unexcited by the whole affair. While there were a few pleasant surprises, and a few snubs which raise my ire in the way that I more or less enjoy, something about the nominations just doesn’t sit right. While the nature of the 10 Best Picture nominations means that a large number of major films from the year enjoy a moment in the spotlight, I would actually argue that there are subtle ways in which this is ruining some of the other categories where voters should be more willing to go out on a limb. With the Academy’s populist and avant garde recognition now done in the main category, the ability for a director like Christopher Nolan to earn a Best Director nomination has been severely diminished, as the legacy of the five-film Best Picture race continues to hang over the remainder of the awards.

And while I wouldn’t quite call it a travesty, I would say that it demonstrates how awards voters only break out of patterns where they are absolutely required to do so.

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Ricky the Rabble-Rouser: The 2011 Golden Globe Awards

Normally, watching the Golden Globes is a fairly solitary experience for me.

Sure, my parents or a few floormates would often be in the room as I liveblogged, livetweeted, or took notes during previous years, but the focus was on putting together short-form snark and long-form analysis of the night’s events. It was just me and the internet, as I awaited the (relative) flood of page views which come with writing about any event of this notoriety.

This year was somewhat different – I attended a lovely Golden Globes viewing party held at some colleagues’ home here in Madison, where the collective snark of my Twitter feed was replaced by the collective snark of a bunch of media studies grad students. We enjoyed some fine food, some fine wine, and I took advantage of being the only obsessive follower of award season prognosticators in order to win the prediction pool. While I have much love for the online community which has formed around this blog, and around my work in general, I will admit that there was something nice about being (largely) disconnected from the online snark in favor of a more interpersonal form of social interaction (which is perhaps fitting considering The Social Network’s dominance of the evening’s proceedings).

However, as a result, I didn’t quite have the time to prepare the lengthy analysis I might normally have written, and which I normally write much of during the show to facilitate its completion. Instead, I put together a more concise and focused piece on the evening’s reflection of ongoing questions surrounding the Golden Globes’ legitimacy over at Antenna. It’s a question that I’ve had on my mind for a while now, and something I wrote about at length for a term paper on the Emmy Awards last semester, but some of Ricky Gervais’ jokes at the expense of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association offered a nice entry into how precisely an awards show that nominates The Tourist, Burlesque and Piper Perabo can hold any sort of legitimacy within the industry.

The Gilded Globes: Legitimacy Amidst Controversy [Antenna]

Every year, the Golden Globes give us a large collection of reasons to dismiss them entirely. The Tourist and Burlesque are perhaps the two most prominent examples on the film side this year, and Piper Perabo’s Lead Actress in a Drama Series nomination for USA Network’s Covert Affairs offers a similar bit of lunacy on the television side. While these may lead us to dismiss the awards as a sort of farcical celebration of celebrity excess, the fact remains that the Golden Globes hold considerable power within the industry.

However, since the piece features very little of my opinion surrounding the night’s winners and this is likely why you’re here, some brief thoughts on Gervais and the awards themselves after the jump.

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