This story first appeared in the Nov. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
The international Emmys used to be a poor relative of the primetime event that takes place every September to celebrate the best in U.S. television. But as the domestic industry increasingly has become dependent on the rest of the world for ideas, be they show formats such as The Voice (Netherlands) and The X Factor (U.K.) or drama adaptations such as Homeland (Israel) and The Bridge (Denmark), the global version of the Emmys has grown in size and stature. In fact, today, global TV is where it’s at — and it doesn’t get more global than the International Emmys, whose show features more than a thousand executives and talent shaping the industry worldwide.
1. It’s Fast and Furious
Worried about yet another three-hour snooze-fest just as awards season begins? Don’t be. The International Emmys are what trophy shows used to (and still should) be: fast, no-nonsense and a little liquored up. Producer Chip Quigley, set to run the ceremony a 13th time, insists on a “get to the chorus” mentality, bringing the show in at under 1½ hours and keeping things moving. “It’s not like the Oscars or the Grammys, where you feel like a hostage and you want to shoot yourself,” he jokes. “People have just had a great dinner, and they’ve got a few drinks in them. We give them a great show but keep things tapping along and get out in time for dessert.”
2. Two Words (OK, Five): The Daily Show‘s John Oliver
The sharp-tongued Brit’s first big emcee gig came in 2007 at the (nontelevised) Television Critics Association honors. His stellar recent turn as Jon Stewart‘s summer replacement on The Daily Show proved he has the comedy chops to host a top-tier industry event. Bruce Paisner, president and CEO of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, says Oliver will have carte blanche when it comes to skewering nominees, winners and the industry itself, setting up a possible night of PC-free awards shtick a la Ricky Gervais.
“He can do and say whatever he wants,” says Paisner. “Ask me after the show if that was such a good idea.”
3. You’ll Recognize the Stars
Yes, International Emmy nominees include a who’s who of Brazilian telenovelas, French dramas and Japanese miniseries. But there also will be U.S. stars aplenty. VIPs at recent ceremonies have included Oprah Winfrey (to whom Hillary Clinton presented an International Emmy Founders Award in 2005), Alec Baldwin, Al Gore, Lorne Michaels and, in a surprise 2011 appearance, Lady Gaga.
“It’s the combination that makes the International Emmys so special,” says Quigley. “Where else are you going to have Alec Baldwin onstage with the biggest soap star in South America?”
The academy is keeping this year’s guest list under tight wraps, but at press time it included Heroes and American Horror Story star Zachary Quinto, who will present the Founders Award to his Star Trek Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams, and heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko, who will fly in from Germany to present the Directorate Award to RTL Group co-CEO Anke Schaferkordt.
4. It‘s Your Ticket to the Booming Hispanic Market
Spanish-language programming is the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. market. Advertising spending on Hispanic TV showed double-digit growth in 2012, while spending on English-language networks was sluggish to practically negative. The International Emmys always have been at the center of the hottest programming trends south of the border, and Hispanic shows will get an even more prominent place in 2014 when the ceremony introduces a category for non-English-language U.S. primetime programs. Any non-English primetime show, from drama to unscripted reality, will be welcome to apply. “It’s a way in particular of giving the booming Hispanic market in the U.S. a seat at the Emmy table,” says Paisner.
5. You’ll See the Next Big Thing
Heard about that popular French zombie series Les Revenants that A&E is remaking for the U.S.? How about the red-hot comedy How to Enjoy the End of the World from Brazil’s TV Globo? Or Sean Bean (Ned Stark on Game of Thrones) playing a cross-dressing teacher on the hit BBC courtroom drama Accused? If you haven’t, then here’s your chance to get caught up on what the rest of the world is watching — before the American versions of same hit the airwaves.