MTV Networks, Comedy Central to Air 'The Comedy Awards' This Spring
NEW YORK - Viacom's MTV Networks unit and its Comedy Central network have set the inaugural The Comedy Awards for March 26 in New York City to give the comedy community its own version of an Academy Awards-style celebration.
The two-hour awards show, which the company hopes to become the latest MTV Networks annual tentpole event, will be taped at Manhattan's Hammerstein Ballroom and premiere on TV on Sunday, April 10 simultaneously across several networks - Comedy Central, Spike TV, TV Land, VH1 and Nick At Nite.
Comedy Central had announced in the fall of 2009 plans to revive the American Comedy Awards, which ran 1987-2001 with ABC airing it before Comedy Central took the show over in its final year. The relaunch was originally eyed for 2010, but it took longer to finalize plans and rethink the approach, name and which networks should participate.
The idea behind the awards is still to honor and celebrate the world of comedy, including the year's best comedy actors, films, TV series, standup and digital content, said Doug Herzog, president of MTV Networks Entertainment Group.
"We wanted to do something that would represent all of comedy," he explained the name change. "We feel comedy is now bigger than ever" partly due to the Internet and new distribution forms.
Herzog told The Hollywood Reporter: "Music has a night with the Grammys, the movies have a night with the Oscars, and TV has its night, too. Comedy very much gets its due at the Emmys, but often gets overlooked at the Oscars. And Comedy doesn't have a night, so we wanted to put on a show to celebrate and honor the community."
Herzog said that putting the show on several networks is meant to signal it is meant to be big and "rather a night for comedy than just a night for Comedy Central."
Big comedy industry names, such as James Burrows, Billy Crystal, Will Ferrell, Whoopi Goldberg, Brad Grey, Seth MacFarlane, Adam McKay, Jimmy Miller, Jay Roach, Ray Romano, Rory Rosegarten and Phil Rosenthal, are among the first to have joined the Comedy Awards board of directors, which will select nominees.
MTV Networks’ tentpole events include MTV's Video Music Awards, Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards and the Comedy Central Roast franchise.
Herzog said hitting the right tone was a challenge of past attempts at comedy awards shows. He expects a straight-forward, celebratory tone mixed with humor. A decision on a host hasn't been made, but Herzog said the show may also go host-less, using a range of presenters instead. Future editions may air live.
Don Mischer Productions’ Don Mischer and Charlie Haykel, alongside Casey Patterson, senior vp, event production at MTVN Entertainment Group, will serve as executive producers of the awards show.
Herzog said that all good comedy content and personalities across various platforms will be available for nominations, including Comedy Central's own shows, such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
The comedy event will "celebrate the talented writers, directors and performers who have literally changed the laugh track of our lives; the pioneering legends who pushed boundaries; the TV shows that we rushed home to watch; the movies that are indelibly etched into our collective pop culture memory and the stand-up comedians that make us think while we laugh," MTV Networks said.
The Comedy Awards winners will be chosen by an invitation-only voting body comprised of 500-1,000 members from the comedy community, including writers, producers, performers and directors. The honors will also feature special awards whose winners fans will be able to decine via online votes.
MTVN Entertainment Group also announced Monday that it has joined forces with the Entertainment Industry Foundation to establish The American Comedy Fund, which will provide financial assistance, health benefits and other resources for comedians during times of need. The fund will be administered in collaboration with the Motion Picture & Television Fund and The Actors Fund.