No Host? No Problem! Creative Arts Emmys Producer Reveals Challenges of Keeping Show Fun

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Spike Jones Jr.

Spike Jones Jr. — prepping to produce his 20th Creative Arts ceremony Saturday — tells THR about his efforts to keep the "Schmemmys" relevant

This story first appeared in the Aug. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

There hasn't been a host for the Creative Arts Emmys since 2009 — a situation Spike Jones Jr. tried his best to change this year for the first time since then. "We really wanted one, but we couldn't find anybody who was available or interested," admits Jones. "It got down to C-list talent, and we decided it wasn't worth it."

Instead there will be 21 pairs of presenters — a mix of actors, writers and producers — who will present four to seven awards each and share personal anecdotes. "This way, we don't have to write the typical awards show banter," he says. Opening this year's ceremony are AMC's Emmy-winning drama series winners Matthew Weiner (Mad Men) and Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad). "We thought: Why not kick it off with two iconic showrunners who we anticipate will get a standing ovation?"

Jones should know how to walk that fine line between pleasing both the audience and the TV Academy. He's produced the show for 20 of the past 21 years (the past 19 in a row). When he started in 1992, he recalls, the Creative Arts Emmys were a dinner dance downstairs at the Pantages Theatre. "It was basically, 'Here's your award, have a nice day,' " Jones says.

The Schmemmys (lovingly nicknamed by comedian Kathy Griffin for their perceived nerd quotient) since have adopted a faster pace and become a more glam, TV-ready stage show, held at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live. There, over the course of 3½ hours, 97 mostly technical, behind-the-scenes awards are presented. Jones and his team then have four days to trim the show into a compact 88 minutes to air Sunday, Aug. 24 — on the eve of the Primetime Emmys telecast — on the FXM network.

The TV Academy requires at least one shot of every winner, "whether they had anything bright to say or not," jokes Jones. "It's the little things that stay in in the final edit," he adds. "Somebody funny, cute and heartfelt always gets more screen time."