Q&A: John Shaffner


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The Hollywood Reporter: Last year's show took a beating from critics. What happened?

John Shaffner: We had hoped through the choice of having multiple hosts (the show) would engage more people since they all represented very popular and successful programs. But I think as we were working with the talent it was very difficult to figure out exactly how to give them work to do on the broadcast. I think what happened was bad. I'm sorry about it. You always leave every project with, "What did I learn from that and how can I move forward and make it better?" We all learned a whole lot.

THR: How important is a high-rated Emmy telecast to the TV academy?

Shaffner: What's hard to remember is that 15,000 members of the television academy are basically 15,000 people who work in television in Los Angeles in all the major disciplines. So it's not what do the Emmys do for the academy, but what the academy does for the television industry. It just happens that the television academy is the structure by which our industry can do this. The Emmys are our primary source of income but also our primary expense. It's a responsibility we undertake on behalf of the community.

THR: Even though you'd prefer a broadcast network televise the Emmys, are you open to a cable net taking over?

Shaffner: The challenge is more complicated than someone taking over. It's how do we get the aggregate support around us. We're all in the same business, more than anything we all want to promote television. You can go home and watch a show on its scheduled time or you could TiVo it or download it. But you are still going to learn about it first by watching it on a (broadcast net) or cable channel when it is being recognized and promoted by the Emmy broadcast. It is a recognition of excellence. As much as people like to say the Internet is taking over, I say if you watch something on the Internet and there's a picture and a story being told, you're watching television.