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Emmys: Producer Ken Ehrlich Defends 'In Memoriam' Choices

Ken Ehrlich - P 2013
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Ken Ehrlich

Planning special tributes for five late TV personalities, Ehrlich is prepared for the annual backlash: "No matter what we do, there will be people who feel we had other options."

Unlike years previous, the 2013 Primetime Emmys' selections for the "In Memoriam" presentation are being questioned before the telecast even airs.

After announcing special tributes for James Gandolfini, Gary David Goldberg, Cory Monteith, Jean Stapleton and Jonathan Winters, in addition to the traditional reel celebrating industry personalities that died in the last year, executive Ken Ehrlich is already defending the choices -- namely the absence of late Dallas actor Larry Hagman on the list.

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"No matter what we do, there will be people who feel we had other options and could have done other things," Erlich said during a Wednesday call with reporters. "In all candor, this becomes a producer's option. And in this case, we selected these five knowing certainly others could be treated this way, but these were the five we chose."

Monteith, whose lone TV credit of significance was Glee, made the cut because of the extenuating circumstances of his sudden death in July.

"It was a rather personal choice, Cory's appeal is to a different generation," said Ehrlich. "At 31, he passed away under very different circumstances. It was important to be responsive to the younger viewers to whom Cory meant perhaps as much as these other individuals meant to their own generations."

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Ehrlich's discussion of the new "In Memoriam" came just an hour after the TV Academy announced the Sunday telecast will also include a tribute to television's role in covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The EP insisted that the somber segment, combined with the extended "In Memoriam" plans, will not bring down the tone of the show.

"It's going to be celebratory," he said. "I don't want to overemphasize these pieces we've talked about. An awards show, like television, needs to have a balance."

As for the celebration, Ehrlich would not elaborate on host Neil Patrick Harris' recent insistence that he will not open the show with one of his trademark musical numbers.

"I will tell you that the show will open in a way that is definitely not expected," he said, copping to his own ambiguity. "I don't like to talk about the show open."  

The Emmys airs live on Sunday on CBS from the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live.