Price is Ripe for TV’s Vistas

Feb 12, 2007  •  Post A Comment

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: The Daytime Emmys used to be held in daytime. When the event shifted to prime time, was there more pressure to get good ratings?
Mr. Price: I have no clue, really, because I have only been here for five years. I imagine that the results were automatically positive. There are more people in nighttime than daytime, more televisions in use. I imagine there was an automatic expansion in audience. I think the question today is as I’m watching how Nielsen is tracking programming by following people rather than boxes in the living room. You have certain places in the daytime business like SoapNet that are doing extremely well. At the same time, a lot of television channels are having problems. I think something like SoapNet as a concept is doing well because people track it around, they keep sort of an archive of the best of the stuff or an ability to dig deeper into the type of program that they like and can dip into at different times of the day. My own speculation about what’s going to happen is that those people who used to watch soaps and simply couldn’t keep up with them because they’re working full time, compliments of digital video will follow those programs through their lunch hour or on their bus ride. It will be interesting to see how that long tail, so to speak, affects television. In a sense, the new daytime may come from people in places other than the home during 9-5.
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: It seems that the Daytime Emmys can always count on the participation of daytime stars such as Rosie O’Donnell, Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres –
Mr. Price: They have an affection for daytime, as do a number of Oscar-winning types who started in daytime and still have it on their resume. While some say daytime is time-worn, I think it still has a lot of energy. It’s sort of re-creating itself. While there’s one less soap opera than there used to be, I have a strong guess that in a couple of years you’re going to see a renaissance of children’s programming and game show programming on digital media because there are more channels for distribution. There’s room for new creators to get into the room and more chances for those people to be seen and heard and be considered Emmy-worthy and eligible, because they’ll get a real chance.
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.
TVWeek: Are there too many talk shows on daytime today, or are there too many talk shows that are too much alike?
Mr. Price: I don’t think so. It’s like every other kind of programming. You can create a new talk show and it may last just a year, but they’re always looking for more. Talk shows have become sort of the new reality-style programming for daytime television. And the more it becomes reality based, I think they will always try to create a talk show or entertainment-style talk show or a Dr. Phil type of talk show where it’s more about social concerns. It’s one of those kinds of areas that will always continue. The “Martha” show, for instance, is like a reality show in a way.
TVWeek: Could Rosie O’Donnell’s addition to “The View” result in that show’s winning the Daytime Emmy this year?
Mr. Price: I’m not sure. Personally, I think it’s great what she’s brought to the show. I think it’s probably helped them. They were probably very aware that they needed a jolt because they’ve been doing the same format for a long time.
TVWeek: Do you think the Daytime Emmy nominees hold the award in high esteem?
Mr. Price: I can absolutely vouch for that. They know that they work hard. They do many, many episodes; it’s not like a one-off. They’re working every day, so any kind of reward for that is very important to them. A lot of the performers and producers do a lot of behind-the-scenes charity work and they’re very busy. They’re connecting with their fans in a close way, so winning an Emmy is something they take very seriously.

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