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The latest news from the TV beat

The latest news from the TV beat — This year’s Emmy Awards tested a new voting system

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Emmy Gets Hip
So Sarah Michelle Gellar got rebuffed again. Still, this year’s Emmy nominations deserve a prize for — at long last — reflecting TV’s current crop of standouts (not just perennial favorites like Dennis Franz and John Lithgow). Will & Grace, The Sopranos, and The West Wing all got much-deserved nods, as did Malcolm in the Middle‘s Jane Kaczmarek and Once And Again‘s Sela Ward. Even Buffy creator Joss Whedon grabbed his first-ever nom for penning the WB drama. ”If we believe what the [voters] are telling us, they’re saying Ally McBeal and NYPD Blue didn’t deserve to be nominated this year,” says Emmy historian Tom O’Neil. ”In terms of balance, that’s very good news.” But it could get ugly, he warns, if the new voting system (which allows Academy members to screen tapes in their homes rather than in a sequestered environment) results in peer pressure prevailing over merit — after all, who’s to say people will actually view the tapes? ”I’m alarmed because ratings have never mattered and underdogs have always had a chance,” says O’Neil. ”Look at Angela Lansbury, who had 16 losses. That wasn’t because people didn’t love her. It’s because her role was so thin. If Jay Leno, who’s popular, wins under the new voting, I fear we’ll never see Dennis Miller win again.” Now you’ve got us worried.

Extra Credit
Who’s got the best job in TV? It could be producer Brad Grey (The Sopranos), who insiders say snagged as much as $25,000 per episode without having any duties on NBC’s new David Alan Grier comedy, DAG. A Brad Grey Television spokeswoman confirms that Grey took a producing credit on DAG in exchange for releasing two writers, who created the series, to NBC. And while his role as an active producer has been questioned before — Garry Shandling sued him for allegedly taking additional producing fees on HBO’s The Larry Sanders Show, maintaining he had no creative involvement (the case was settled out of court) — the only red flag raised at DAG was regarding Grey’s credit in the main titles. Grier’s bosses said he shouldn’t get one, and Grey agreed to pull his company’s name. Still, it doesn’t sit too well with some Hollywood folks. Says one entertainment litigator: ”It cheapens the whole authorship credit — to appear to be creatively involved when you’re doing nothing.”

The Shared Witch Project
Rather than risk watching the competition snatch up the Blair Witch producers’ next project — a Studios USA-based update of the Leonard Nimoy-hosted In Search of… series — Fox has agreed to share the show with the studio’s basic-cable outlet, USA Network. Much like its arrangement with NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, USA will air an ISO episode as soon as eight days after its Fox debut. Fox is even allowing the cabler to air the show in prime time (SVU airs at 11 p.m.). ”This is an opportunity for networks to get great programming at a lower cost,” says one studio topper. ”And nobody has shown any downside to it.”