And the Emmy goes to … Nokia Theatre

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Emmy has a new home.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' annual awards show is moving from the Shrine Auditorium to the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles starting this year. ATAS has inked a 10-year deal with AEG that includes the Primetime Emmy and Creative Arts ceremonies.

ATAS chairman and CEO John Shaffner said that AEG approached the academy seven years ago about making the move. Construction on the new facility started in 2005, with the theater and Nokia Plaza opening in October. Although ATAS signed a long-term deal with AEG, it had been operating with the Shrine on a year-to-year basis.

Shaffner said the move made sense for many reasons, including a larger area for aftershow events like the Governors Ball. In addition, the Nokia Theatre will hold about 6,500 Emmy attendees, which is slightly more than the Shrine, though Shaffner pointed out that the Nokia's seating arrangement will allow for "thousands more" on the orchestra level. He also noted the hotels and restaurants under construction in the area as part of the L.A. Live initiative.

The move follows the Emmys' 10-year run at the Shrine, where the show relocated in 1998 after having been at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium since the mid-1970s. The Shrine has hosted the ceremony every year since with the exception of 2001, when two postponements forced ATAS to find another venue (the Shubert Theatre).

"All of the major awards shows have moved from place to place," Shaffner said. "The Emmys began in small rooms in Hollywood and outgrew that. Now we've outgrown the Shrine, and this (new venue) gives us opportunities to expand in a number of positive directions."

Lee Zeidman, senior vp at AEG and GM of the Nokia Theatre, said that when the facility was being designed, input was taken from experts in the entertainment industry on such aspects as lighting and sound, among others.

"When we were first conceiving L.A. Live and the theater, we targeted some of the awards shows we were interested in," he said. "The Emmys were always at the top of the list. Over the last seven years, we had a constant dialogue with the academy to talk about some of the things they wanted to see in the theater space."

He added that, as part of the agreement, ATAS will be able to take advantage of other facilities that AEG owns and operates, including the adjacent Staples Center.

As for the red-carpet area, Shaffner said that will be located off Chick Hearn Court — the street between the Nokia Theatre and Staples — turning into the main plaza in front of the theater.

Also as part of the deal, AEG has signed on as the main title sponsor for the Television Academy Foundation's annual golf tournament for the next 10 years, ATAS CFO Frank Kohler said.

The first awards show to air in the Nokia Theatre was the American Music Awards in October. Zeidman said discussions are under way with two other major awards shows, though he declined to be specific, and that executives are looking at hosting a total of four a year.

The 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards are set for Sept. 21.
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