Nokia Theatre is new home to Emmy Awards

The 2008 ceremony settles in at its new downtown home

Good-bye Shrine Auditorium, hello Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.

For the first time since its last move a decade ago, from Pasadena’s Civic Auditorium, the Emmy Awards ceremony is changing its venue, this time to Nokia’s new state-of-the-art space in downtown Los Angeles, which is quickly becoming the go-to locale for awards shows and concerts.

At the Nokia, attendees can expect a more up-close-and-personal experience than in years past. Abundant seating at the orchestra level replaces traditional tiered seating, and no seat is farther than 220 feet from the stage. The 7,100 seats are designed continental style, meaning long horizontal rows with wide spaces in between — read: lots of knee room.

“Everyone can see the presenters and winners as they walk up front,” says John Shaffner, chairman of the TV academy. “The venue is massive, but it has a more intimate feel.” Free of the restrictions of a classical theater, the venue facilitates the transition of scenic elements from stage to audience. “There’s no fire curtain,” Shaffner says. “It’s more like a big soundstage.”

He admits, “It’s a little scary, as was the move from Pasadena to the Shrine many years ago. But we watched three other national awards broadcast from the Nokia — the American Music Awards, ESPN Awards and the ‘American Idol’ finals — and, hopefully, they ironed out all the kinks. We’re holding our breath and jumping in.”

The theater itself is the big draw, but the surrounding environs are also part of the allure. “Downtown is still a work in progress, but this section will be finished within a year,” he notes. “The abundance of hotels and restaurants within walking distance makes it wonderfully convenient for parties. At the Shrine, you had to get in the car and drive in order to get a meal.”