Making Emmy History: Nominated Choreographers Join Forces for Dance Number (Exclusive)
UPDATED: The award for choreography is moved to the Primetime Emmys, while reality competition host moves to the Creative Arts Emmys.
For the first time in Emmy history, the nominated choreographers will join together to create and present a dance number during the show, which will be built around host Neil Patrick Harris.
To cap it off, the Emmy for choreography will be presented on the Primetime Emmys show for the first time at the completion of this special dance production. In past years, the choreography Emmy has been presented during the Creative Arts Emmys the week before the primetime show.
"This came about because we wanted to look for another way to involve our host, our friend Mr. Harris," said Ken Ehrlich, who is executive producing the Primetime Emmys for the sixth time.
Ehrlich, who has also produced the Grammys since 1980, called Harris "one of America's greatest new song and dance men in another musical."
"I was thinking about what we could do with him that would be different or unusual and exciting," added Ehrlich. "The idea of having him interact with these choreographers and dancers in this number just became something that was so attractive we couldn't pass it up."
To make room for the choreography award, the Emmy for reality competition host is being moved to the Creative Arts show. The winner in that category will be a presenter at the Primetime Emmys.
Ehrlich said the decision for the moves is only for this year's telecast. How the two categories are presented in future years may change again depending on the preference of the producer that year. The decision to make the change this year, said Ehrlich, was enthusiastically endorsed by the TV Academy and CBS, which will air the Sept. 22 telecast.
Harris, one of the stars of CBS' How I Met Your Mother, has won critical acclaim in recent years for hosting the Tony Awards. He previously hosted the Emmys in 2010.
Ehrlich found an innovative way to deliver the news about the plan to the nominated choreographers -- Derek Hough (a double nominee for Dancing With the Stars); Allison Holker, who is not only nominated for Dancing With the Stars, but is a dancer in two of the nominated numbers; and four other nominees, all nominated for So You Think You Can Dance: Sonya Tayeh and Mandy Jo Moore, Napoleon D'umo and Travis Wall.
Ehrlich and the Academy invited the choreography nominees last week to a special reception in their honor. "Once they were there, we sprung it on them," said Ehrlich. "Neil came and announced, 'Yes, of course we want to celebrate their nominations, but basically we wanted them to choreograph a number collectively that would be one on the show.' "
The events at the reception were taped, and most of the other work on the number will also be taped for a kind of reality show documentary to be shown as part of the presentation on the Primetime Emmys. "It's obviously a very innovative thing to do," added Ehrlich.
The choreographers will meet this week to figure out what they will do for the Emmys telecast. One option being bandied includes the choreographers themselves dancing, and each has been invited to hire two of their favorite dancers for the number (likely from the shows they were nominated for). The chance of big-name performers taking part is improbable but remains undecided.
However, Ehrlich said they have been given a budget, which will limit how much they can spend on the dancers and production.
But don't expect the dance number to open up the Emmys, Ehrlich commented. Instead, it will occur somewhere in "the body of the show."
"It's definitely going to be an original number," said Ehrlich, "something that hasn't been done before. It's going to utilize the talents of all of them to put this number together as choreographers."