Ken Tucker says the twice-delayed TV awards ought to try something funny for a change
James Gandolfini, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, ...
Credit: The Sopranos: Barry Wetcher

Why NOT deliver Emmys directly to stars’ homes?

The latest word from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is that the Emmy Awards will occur, in some form, probably in November. The show’s original producer, Don Mischer, has bowed out due to previous commitments of working on the 2002 Olympic Games. So now’s the time, perhaps, to look more closely at a remark made by Academy chairman Bryce Zabel during the announcement that the Emmy Awards would be postponed for a second time. He said that, even if the show was canceled, the winners would receive their trophies, even if an Emmy official had to drive over to each winner’s house and hand the prize over in person.

Given the time that has elapsed and, if anything, the increased potential danger of holding an awards ceremony at this time, I’d say that this suggestion makes a lot of sense — seriously, but also with a bit of whimsy. What I mean is, why NOT have designated Emmy officials go to the homes of, say, ”The Sopranos”’ James Gandolfini or ”Frasier”’s Kelsey Grammer or ”Everybody Loves Raymond”’s Doris Roberts, should they win?

Heck, here’s a new way to televise the Emmys: Bring along a camera crew and have them catch, live on TV, the startled reaction of each star as a car pulls up and a gleaming Emmy is unsheathed. It would be like a more exalted version of those people who win giant sweepstakes checks at their doorsteps — except that instead of Ed McMahon rapping on the mansion door-knocker, this year’s Emmy host, Ellen DeGeneres, could come along with a microphone for a little chat with the winner on his or her doorstep. DeGeneres has always been good at improvising — this would be an excellent way for her to demonstrate it (as opposed to, say, the awkwardly written, ratings-diving sitcom she’s now starring in).

I’m sort of kidding, but the more I think about it, it would make a great show. Certainly no one would have to dress up: Gandolfini could open his door wearing Tony Soprano’s trademark underwear-and bathrobe (yeah, I know — fat chance); or if Martin Sheen wins for ”West Wing,” he could invite Ellen (and thus the nation) into his living room for a little Presidential fireside chat.

Last week, lots of readers jumped on me for being too serious about ”Survivor.” I ain’t apologizing for juxtaposing what so many of you chided me for as being ”just a game show” with President Bush’s grave press conference. But when it comes to the Emmys, I’m here to kid around about a stunt that could actually make the Emmys watchable for a change.

Emmy committee, rent two vans, one for the L.A. winners and one for the New York-based stars. Get Ellen in one and — oh, I don’t know — maybe Garry Shandling in the other one. Grab maps to the stars’ homes and start handing over those trophies! I guarantee you CBS’ll get the highest ratings it’s had for an awards show in years when DeGeneres knocks on Aaron Sorkin’s door and he greets her in sweats, a cup of coffee in his hand, and growls at her to get lost — he’s got another very special episode of ”The West Wing” to write.