Jul 1, 2009

Behind the News

The TV Academy Gets It Right: Why Neil Patrick Harris is Such a Stunning Choice for Emmy Host

The folks at the TV Academy clearly have gotten the message.

Variety has word tonight that "How I Met Your Mother" star Neil Patrick Harris is in final talks to serve as host as this year's Emmys. It's news that is, at once, fully logical-- and completely mind-blowing.

It's a no-brainer because anyone who watched Harris helm the Tony or TV Land Awards knows that this man has mad hosting skills, as the kids might say (20 years ago). He's charming, funny, and, most of all, fully in command of his audience.

With CBS this year's Emmy home, and "HIMYM" moving to a new timeslot on the Eye this fall, executives at the network would have been insane not to fight for Harris as host.

But this is the Emmys we're talking about. The TV Academy.

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Logic doesn't always enter into the equation when you're talking about any big organization and its annual award shows. So many different factions need to be satisfied when decisions are made, often times the only possible choice is the safe one.

How else to explain the decision to have a hodgepodge of reality hosts (horribly) handle last year's Emmys? It was a compromise.

And that's why the call to give the show to Harris is such a stunner.

Yes, he's been nominated for an Emmy before, but his show hasn't. I'll bet a big chunk of the Academy hasn't even heard of "HIMYM."

Remember, this is an organization that as recently as 20 years ago thought it made sense to have John Forsythe host the Emmys. Three different years! (OK, it was during the "Dynasty" craze, but still...).

Most past Emmy hosts have been either very well-known comics (Conan, Ellen, Garry) or very big primetime stars (Ryan Seacrest, Angela Lansbury, Tim Allen).

Who knows-- maybe Harris isn't such a radical choice. Perhaps, when nobody was looking, "HIMYM" graduated from buzz show to blockbuster. It certainly had the ratings last season to qualify as one of the biggest sitcoms on TV.

No matter the logic. The Academy deserves credit for agreeing to the Harris choice. He will bring new blood and new interest to a show that is sorely in need of both.
While everyone's in a radical mood, two other suggestions:

First, why not ask Carter Bays and Craig Thomas-- the creators of "HIMYM"-- to serve as head writers for this year's Emmys? Conan O'Brien brought his team with him when he hosted the show; why shouldn't Harris?

The Academy and CBS also should lean heavily on some of TV's most fertile comic minds to pitch in to make this year's show memorable.

That means getting the Lonely Island team (that's Andy Samberg's crew) to produce a series of short films for the show. Samberg killed at the MTV Movie Awards; he and his boys need to be enlisted for the Emmy cause.

And, on a non-Emmy note, CBS should immediately sign a holding deal with Harris anticipating his post-"HIMYM" career.

No, I'm not talking about a deal for another sitcom. How about these six words:

"Late Show with Neil Patrick Harris." 

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