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Seth Meyers is ready for his Emmy close-up.
The Late Night show was optimistic about his upcoming stint leading the 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, airing on a weekday for the first time in years. As Meyers told it, he’ll stick mainly to his strengths: telling jokes.
“We want to approach it like anything we do, which is to be upbeat and fun. Certainly we don’t want it to feel morbid. We want it to feel like a celebration of TV,” Meyers told reporters Sunday during NBC’s Television Critics Association summer press tour session.
“No matter how much TV changes, our job is still to be entertaining for three hours in an old-school way,” he added later. “It’s the same thing of taking over a late-night show. You have to give the best version of yourself, build the show that is best for my skill set.”
Unlike his Tonight Show lead-in Jimmy Fallon, who is comfortable with performing in musical sketches and comedy bits, Meyers will flex his muscles during the opening monologue.
“I’m limited by the fact that I can’t sing or dance. So I have to tell jokes and the monologue is the best place to tell jokes,” Meyers said. “That first 10 minutes [of the ceremony] is the best time to get the audience to laugh because as the night goes on, they get more disappointed.”
Producer Don Mischer praised the choice of Meyers, saying that in looking for an Emmy host, “you want to have somebody who wants to be there and loves television and is comfortable there,” he said. “[Seth] can roll with the punches and pick up on things that go wrong and need commenting.”
Meyers’ past experiences leading the ESPYs and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner have better prepared him for the grueling task of hosting the Emmys, NBC’s late-night host gathered. “It’s more playful than cutting and biting,” he said in reference to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Meyers cited Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels’ belief of how to approach jokes as an approach he’ll borrow. “Try not to tell a joke where you’d want to leave a cocktail party if they showed up,” he said.
Meyers and the producing team behind the Emmys, including his Late Night producer Mike Shoemaker, will likely keep with tradition, with one or two pre-taped pieces where Meyers could potentially appear in. And most importantly, the Emmy team emphasized the importance of keeping the show moving, with Mischer citing “expediency” and “efficiency” as key.
If there was any worry over moving the Emmys earlier in the year and to a Monday night, the creative team certainly didn’t let on. Paul Telegdy, president of alternative and late night programming at NBC Entertainment, noted that NBC would utilize Sunday Night Football the night before as a launch platform.
“I would never refer to it as an annoying distraction, whether in late August or early September,” said Bruce Rosenblum, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy of this year’s airdate. “We may have an advantage being on a Monday night,” Mischer added. “We stand a chance to get more attention on Monday night.”
As for the fluid changes in the TV landscape, Rosenblum fielded multiple questions from critics about major snubs and lax rules in regards to many of its categories. Shameless‘ switch from drama to comedy series, Treme‘s move from drama series to miniseries were among the switches Rosenblum was grilled about.
Saying that the nominations were determined by a body that includes 19,000 voters, Rosenblum assured that a closer look will be paid attention to. He also indicated that there are no plans to add more categories to the ceremony or to add more nominees to fulfill the growing TV offerings. “There are some subtle rules that as an organization we should take a look at,” he said.
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