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Emmy season 2012 will be a busy one for Warner Bros. Television Group president Bruce Rosenblum, who was elected Academy of Television Arts & Sciences chairman and CEO in November, replacing longtime chair John Shaffner. The first high-level TV exec to lead the organization in 15 years, Rosenblum reveals his hope for a bigger telecast audience, one of his primary goals as ATAS chair and how the Emmys have become a global commodity.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: With awards-show fatigue a reality of the business, how concerned are you about creating buzz for the Emmys, both for insiders and viewers?
Bruce Rosenblum: Well, from an industry standpoint, I don’t think there’s concern about a lack of enthusiasm for the Emmys. There’s never been more high-quality content eligible for these awards. From a consumer standpoint, ultimately there is a mutual concern between the academy and our broadcast network partner about attracting viewers. But ABC knows how to build excitement around award season, especially coming off its terrific work on the Academy Awards. We supported its decision to move forward with producer Don Mischer and Jimmy Kimmel as host.
THR: Many categories are crowded with contenders this year, perhaps none more than made for TV movies/miniseries, which has an odd contenders pool including HBO’s original movie Game Change, FX’s 12-episode anthology American Horror Story and History’s three-part Hatfields & McCoys. How do you respond to criticism that these programs are too different to create fair competition?
Rosenblum: American Horror Story was evaluated under the rules as they exist for the academy. The governors made the decision that it did in fact qualify as a miniseries. We have other categories that have not exactly identical programming content up against each other, like comedy series, which has had half-hour shows against hourlong shows. But here’s the good news: There is so much wonderful product being produced by our industry that these are good problems to have.
THR: What are you most focused on in terms of your leadership at the academy?
Rosenblum: I think as a whole we can do a better job as an academy in communicating with our membership about voting and submission processes — not only around Emmy season but throughout the year. I always think our organization can do a better job of creating an environment where the Academy is more relevant to the members and where the members are more aware of the activities offered throughout the year.
THR: In your capacity as Warners’ TV chief, how do you see the Emmys impacting TV business abroad?
Rosenblum: The appetite for episodic U.S. storytelling has never been higher around the world than right now, and the recognition on the territory-by-territory basis that U.S.-produced programming is performing well is really exciting for all of us in the television industry. At Warner Bros. in particular, we’ve seen meaningful growth in our international businesses, but that’s the story across the industry. And again, as international appetite for our content expands, that’s only good news for Emmys.
THR: If you were to sum up this year’s forthcoming Emmy season in one word, what would it be?
Rosenblum: Quality. When you look at the caliber of the talent working in our business and the quality of the storytelling that’s being done on television on a week-to-week basis, we are fully competitive with film and other forms of entertainment. TV fans all over the world are engaged with Emmy-contending shows on multiple platforms and are able to stay that way, even long after a series’ season has ended. So when you take the combination of great auspices and phenomenal talent, that’s an exciting recipe for Emmys.
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