The 53rd Annual Emmys — originally scheduled for this Sunday, Sept. 16 — will now take place Oct. 7. Sources tell EW.com the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is making plans for a more somber telecast that would acknowledge Tuesday’s attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
A source says CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and other network execs favored an earlier, return-to-normal Sept. 23 airdate, while the TV Academy preferred to put more distance between the disaster and the show’s broadcast.
On Oct. 7, expect a low-key ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles — a far cry from last year’s laughfest hosted by Garry Shandling. For starters, sources say Ellen DeGeneres’ monologue will be scrapped. And the TV Academy will likely honor the thousands of people killed in the disaster, including those from the entertainment industry.
Producer/writer David Angell and his wife Lynn were aboard American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles — the first plane to strike the World Trade Center. Angell won six Emmys for producing (”Cheers” in 1989 and ”Frasier” from 1994 to 1998) and two for writing (”Cheers” in 1984 and ”Frasier” in 1994).
It’s also likely the academy will tip a hat to TV news and how the networks rose to the occasion by providing round-the-clock coverage while suspending commercials and sharing videotape — unprecedented behavior for the typically competitive organizations.
This is new territory for the TV Academy. The Emmys and the Grammys have never been bumped by headlines, though breaking news did delay the Emmy telecast by 30 minutes in 1978 when President Jimmy Carter — flanked by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin — announced they had reached a peace accord.
In fact, no Hollywood awards show has ever been delayed this long. The Oscars were postponed for two days in 1968 because of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and for one day in 1981 because of the assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan.
Awards show historian Tom O’Neil says the TV Academy is obviously sensitive to how the telecast may be viewed outside of Hollywood, especially given how the Hollywood Foreign Press Association took some heat after moving ahead with the Golden Globes only five days after the 1994 earthquake in Los Angeles.
Hollywood has tried to show it can be sensitive to world events. Oscar literally banned formal wear for the ceremony during World War II and asked stars to donate money typically spent on orchid corsages to war funds instead. Dining and dancing also was nixed during the war years.
”It was unprecedented for Emmy leaders to postpone the ceremony, but they had to,” says O’Neil (author of ”The Emmys” and ”The Grammys”). ”How could stars get all gussied up, go to a party and accept gold statuettes for best comedy actress while the nation grieved?”
Still, says O’Neil, ”It’s important for the TV industry to get together sooner than later. It was television that brought America together during this tragedy. Its leaders are eager to call a town hall meeting and mourn together.”