Neil Patrick Harris, Mary J. Blige, and the Emmys were in the news this week

By EW Staff
Updated August 07, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

Writers and directors protest cuts to the Emmy telecast
An attempt to make the Emmys more viewer friendly has raised the ire of writers and directors. The TV Academy wants to pretape eight categories, including two each for writing and directing, about 45 minutes before the live ceremony on Sept. 20. The move will allow exec producer Don Mischer to edit out moments like the winner walking to the stage, and then insert the footage later. Emmy winner Matthew Weiner (Mad Men) was among 150 or so showrunners who sent a letter to the TV Academy this week saying the decision devalued writers. The Directors Guild chimed in with its own letter of complaint shortly afterward. Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris defended the change: ”The writers’ speeches are some of the best ones of the night. So we’ll be able to highlight them, if anything, more.” Given the ceremony’s historically low ratings — last year’s was the second-least-watched ever, with 12.5 million viewers — the TV Academy isn’t likely to change its mind. ”These shows are potentially extinct if we don’t do a better job,” CBS’ head of specials Jack Sussman told EW.
Lynette Rice


Mary J. Blige on her upcoming album
Soul diva Mary J. Blige is back with two singles — midtempo groove ”The One” (alongside Drake) and ballad ”Stronger,” which will be featured in the LeBron James documentary More Than a Game. You’ll have to wait until Nov. 24 for the full album, but Blige spoke to EW about it. ”’The One’ is pretty up — you know, as up as I’m gonna get,” she says. ”I have maybe two more mid-to-up songs. You’ll always be able to nod your head to my music or move a little bit.” And what of the album’s overall vibe? ”It’s a cross between my generation and the next generation,” she says. ”I always keep my ears open, so I can know how to reach them without looking like an idiot trying to be them.”
Tanner Stransky