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Price is Ripe for TV’s Vistas

Feb 19, 2007  •  Post A Comment

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In 2006 the Daytime Emmys ceremony was held in Hollywood for the first time ever. The West Coast production was deemed so successful that the 34th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards will also broadcast live from the Kodak Theatre, on Friday, June 15, from 9 to 11 p.m. (ET) on CBS. The Daytime Emmy nominations will be announced on CBS’s “The Early Show” March 14.

TelevisionWeek correspondent Allison J. Waldman spoke with Peter Price, president and CEO of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, about the upcoming event, last year’s success and what to expect in the future.

TelevisionWeek: What prompted moving the Daytime Emmys from New York to the West Coast last year, and was it a success?

Peter Price: Mainly, it was to try something new. That was the primary idea and it’s something we had never done before, holding an event at the Kodak that has an Academy Award luster to it. Adjacent to that, almost as important an element, is that half of our daytime community lives and works in Los Angeles. It seemed reasonable to do an event there so the professional community could have better access to a whole bunch of fans who could lay hands on the award ceremony like they do at Radio City here in New York. So those were the two driving reasons-to do something new and different, like most TV shows try to do, and to better serve the professionals and the fans.

TVWeek: What was the reaction from your constituency to the new locale? Will you be continuing to do the Daytime Emmys at the Kodak?

Mr. Price: The way it works is that with our telecast partner every year we decide the venue and we do it collaboratively based on how things worked the prior year and what exciting ideas we have for the next year. It worked very well last year in Los Angeles, generated a lot of excitement, and based upon that, everyone at CBS this year said there was a lot of energy out there, let’s do it again. Next year, 2008, we start all over again and we’ll decide then where it’s going to be. There isn’t necessarily now a West Coast tradition. It was a successful excursion that’s being repeated, and where it goes the year after could be New York-or it could be Paris.

TVWeek: What makes the Daytime Emmys different from the other Emmy broadcasts?

Mr. Price: I think it’s quite different, certainly from the News Emmys and Sports and the other Emmy Awards we do. And even quite different from the Primetime Emmys in that the fans are as much a part of the show as are the famous people on the stage and the glamorous people in the orchestra. So there is an energy in the room that is extraordinary. It’s not just the soaps that are causing it; it’s the talk shows, the children’s people, and the whole daytime contingent. There seems to be a more energetic community of interest. I gather that if you’re in prime-time television, you may go do theatrical films; you may do a number of other things in your life. Many people in the daytime business, that is their occupation and their preoccupation. Their lives in daytime are a career rather than just a stop along the way.

TVWeek: And the feeling among fans is that they’ve known these people for years, welcomed them into their homes, from generation to generation …

Mr. Price: Exactly, it’s decades. For a show these days in prime time to last a couple of years is a big deal, let alone a couple of decades.

TVWeek: That brings to mind that “Guiding Light” is celebrating 70 years of continuous broadcasting-radio and TV-this year. Will you recognize the anniversary during the award show?

Mr. Price: Brent Stanton [executive director of the Daytime Emmys], my associate, is nodding his head vigorously. We have heard from the “Guiding Light” people about that subject, and the next key step in that is the appointment of an executive producer for our show, which will be announced very, very shortly. CBS is polishing that up right now and all of that specific, tactical programming-the elements of the show-that is done with the telecast partner and with us. So it’s a timely question because that’s just about to get on our radar screen.

TVWeek: What prompted pushing the date of the Daytime Emmys back to June?

Mr. Price: We always tried to get the event out of sweeps, and this is the first year that the network partner and we have managed to do that. There are good reasons for the move. We’re tied to a Friday night event; that is the Daytime Emmy tradition. I imagine that network executives once thought this kind of event would add energy to an otherwise difficult night to program because people are off doing other things. If you are on Friday and in sweeps, everybody is throwing the best they’ve got on every day of the week, including that Friday, and the counter-programming is fierce.

It’s not because we’re there, it’s because any special is going to have a pretty decent rating, whether it’s the Tony, the Emmy or the Oscar. If you have your award show in sweeps, you’re getting a lot of headwind that you’re not going to get beyond sweeps, where there’s not such an intense amount of programming being thrown at you. Take, for example, the Primetime Emmys last year. They had them in August and there was concern that they were going to be in the doldrums of the summer when nobody watches television, but they did fine. The ratings were better in a period where people were looking for good program choices rather than a month later in September when everybody was kicking in their new shows.

TVWeek: Have you decided on a host for the Daytime Emmys broadcast?

Mr. Price: That’s the exercise that’s just about to be engaged. The executive producer will very shortly be announced. The selection of the host and who gets recognized in the broadcast and how long the telecast will be, all the elements of the show, will be decided by the telecast partner, the executive producer and us. That’s just about to happen.

TVWeek: Were you surprised or disappointed that NBC canceled “Passions” in favor of a fourth hour of “Today”?

Mr. Price: I wasn’t surprised. I don’t think anybody at NBC was surprised because “Passions” had always been struggling, and I think it’s like any other company where you’ve got only one-of-a-kind-it’s much more difficult to promote and make any economic sense out of it. I think it was difficult for them to have a stand-alone soap, and in the NBC world it probably made more sense economically to have more news. I think people in the industry saw that coming for a while. For NBC it was probably a good business move.