What's "Useful" About the Critics' Choice TV Awards

Sonja Flemming/CBS

Broadcast Film Critics Association president Joey Berlin reveals why the small-screen version of his awards show, now on A&E, has never been more relevant in helping to guide inundated voters and what makes him "cringe" about other awards shows.

This story first appeared in the June 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

If your head spins at the notion of another awards fete, have no fear. Joey Berlin believes this one is actually "useful." The fifth annual Critics' Choice Television Awards has emerged as an important first stop for Emmy contenders, and show producer Berlin promises a show filled with new faces and maybe even some first-time winners. Emceed by So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley, the star-studded affair -- held at the Beverly Hilton on Sunday, May 31, and broadcast on A&E at 5 p.m. PT -- offers a handy user's guide as Emmy season gets underway.

How is the voting body for this show different from the Critics' Choice Movie Awards held in the fall?

The film awards are voted on by the members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. That's about 300 movie critics and journalists. This show is comprised of broadcast television journalists -- people who are reporting on television broadcast media -- almost 100 in all. A small overlap exists between the two memberships, but they're pretty much separate.

How do you think this show has evolved in its relevance to the Emmys?

The Globes is a film awards show with TV stuff tacked onto it. And there's the TCA Awards in the summer, then finally the Emmys, which are the gold standard for TV. So it only felt logical, organic and useful for this group to weigh in, too, just before the Emmy balloting begins. I'm a TV Academy member, too, and there are only so many hours in the day for Emmy voters to watch our screeners! I want to do a good job of voting, and the Critics' Choice TV Awards offer some guidance. The whole awards game can be seen through cynical eyes, but really, it's part of an ecosystem that supports quality programming.

What changes have you made in broadcasting the show this year?

Last year's aired on The CW, and now both the Critics' Choice movie awards and our show will be broadcast live on A&E. We were thrilled with what the network did with the film awards last fall, and they're showing the same support for this show. We've had to stop asking people to be presenters because we almost have too many!

There are a lot of so-called fringy nominees this year, from shows like SundanceTV's drama Rectify to FX's summer comedy You're the Worst. Conversely a lot of Emmy mainstays like Modern Family and Mad Men were snubbed. Did any of these results surprise you?

I'm really happy to see that the nominating committees went for a lot of new talent. The fact of the matter is that Modern Family is a great show. I'm a big fan. But it's won the Emmy five times; it's an established show. This is a great opportunity for emerging talent to get attention.

Will we see you onstage that night as the requisite voice of authority?

(Laughs.) Absolutely not. I always cringe when those people come on stage. That's when, if I'm watching at home, I go make a sandwich.

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