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Nervousness at the Emmys is nothing new, but those who took thestage Sunday at the Nokia Theatre exhibited a different kind ofanxiety, referencing declining broadcast ratings in general andEmmy apathy in particular.
“Amy (Poehler) and I are honored to be presenting on the lastofficial year of network broadcast television,” presenter JuliaLouis-Dreyfus said.
During a time when broadcast has struggled to stave off ratingsdeclines as cable networks and online viewing rise, the Emmys drewa record-low 12.3 million viewers last year.
“That joke is just for the 5,000 people in this room, not for the5,000 people watching at home,” presenter Ricky Gervaisquipped.
Looking to turn around the ratings fortunes, the ceremony’sproducers shook things up, trying to inject entertaining tidbitsinto even the most routine of conventions — like reading nomineesoff a Facebook page. But faced with category after category won byfamiliar names, even host Neil Patrick Harris made a quip about howpredictable the winners were after CBS’ “The Amazing Race” won fora seventh year in a row.
The “moments of unpredictability” promised by Emmy executiveproducer Don Mischer mainly were in the script of the productionrather than in the results, raising concerns that such a scorecardmight hamper any chance for a ratings rebound, despite Harris’ pleato viewers in the opening number to “put down the remote.” (In thenumber Harris listed major TV networks, with HBO conspicuouslymissing.)
In one of the slew of widely expected victories, creator-star TinaFey went up to accept a third consecutive best comedy series Emmyfor NBC’s “30 Rock.” She referenced “The Jay Leno Show” taking overthe Peacock’s 10 p.m. hour from scripted shows — anotherend-of-the-world-as-we-know-it industry touchstone.
“I want to thank our friends at NBC for keeping us on the air eventhough we’re more expensive than a talk show,” she said.
In the face of gloom and doom, however, broadcast TV received astrong endorsement from an unlikely source: Matthew Weiner, creatorof AMC’s “Mad Men,” which has been in the forefront of cable’sascent against broadcast.
“I actually thought it was a pretty resounding support of broadcasttelevision tonight,” Weiner said of the mix of winners from bothworlds. “CBS put on an amazing Emmys. I’ve gone to seven of theseand it was the best by far — and a broadcast network didthat.”
The ongoing battle for relevance was dramatized at one point duringthe show when, in a pretaped bit, Harris reprised his role asonline sensation Dr. Horrible, who hijacks the broadcast.
“I’ve hacked into your broadcast to tell you that television isdead,” Harris-as-Horrible said. “The future of home entertainmentis the Internet.”
Then, Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) appears to save the day,striking Horrible and declaring, “Television is here to stay.”
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