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August 04 2009

Showrunners protest the removal of live presentation of writing awards at the Emmys. Jane Espenson, Steve DeKnight,David Fury and Jeffrey Bell among them.

I would definitely miss those. They are always suspiciously well written...
A quick guide to #emmysfail which I posted over at the .org forums.

ALso, FWIW, that's just lifted from the original WGA page.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-08-04 01:35 ]
Ah, sorry, apparently I did't do my extended reading...

[ edited by restless on 2009-08-04 01:38 ]
I wouldn't worry about it.
Rebecca (Rand Kirshner) Sinclair is on the list as well... she is collecting names, isn't she?
Well, that's just outrageous nonsense. I don't think people'd find those awards more boring than others (I know I don't, but then - like most people here - I actually pay attention to who's writing any given show I like to watch).

Although I have to say I'm not quite clear and which categories do and which categories don't get aired.
And here's NPH and the producer defending the changes. Note that the basic rationale is that too many shows that go unwatched by a mainstream audience were winning awards, and, you know, we can't have that happening on an awards show on broadcast television.
I so find that lame. Just ugh. Totally uncool. :(
Ron Moore (same as the last link): "If [the cut content] doesn't really matter, then why don't they do it for the whole show?"
Out of the last ten Emmys, seven "Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series" (one of this year's shafted awards) went to cable shows. During that same period, six years in that category had cable shows for at least four of its five nominees.

In case anyone's wondering why a broadcast network is including "Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series" amongst the categories its seeking to limit the audience's exposure to.
Such a lame case of sour grapes.
Totally ridiculous, are they purposely trying to make the Emmy's awards even worse than they are? Like many of you, the writers awards are the ones I pay particular attention to and it's such a hoot when a writer is recognized for building a brilliant piece.

(Sigh)I know, welcome to the Emmys where all is unfair. Silly people, that's what!
Yea. It's not really the writer's fault that networks don't put on good, original drama anymore. Maybe if CBS doesn't like it, they could mix in some original non-cop drama. Just a thought.

Honestly I wouldn't care if it WEREN'T for the very real observation that most of these awards are not going to networks. If it were CSI, House, and Lie To Me winning all the time, the whole thing would seem less suspect.

But then its silly for me to care at all when I never watch the thing, isn't it?

Still, I don't know what the writers can do. Honestly, they're not in a truly great bargaining position because there are so many writers who would like to break into the business. Actors are brands that get built over time and eventually get tied to shows. Writers skills get built over time, but ultimately are unknown unless you're truly interested in the craft.
I think that, at least in part, the overall goal here is to marginalize and lessen the presence of WGA writers in front of the public. To relegate them to the same status as the hardworking craftsmen who accept awards for their work in hotel conference rooms, the week before the "real" awards show, from B List stars. It's sad, and it's wrong, and it shouldn't be done. And if it is going to be done, it should be done for every category across the board. Not just writers.

I would imagine that in some way, this all goes back to the strike when Hollywood power players first learned that the general public is genuinely interested in the people who write our favorite shows. We stood up and supported writers in unprecedented numbers. And it probably scared the crap out of the Hollywood elite. I would expect this demeaning move to be an opening salvo in what will no doubt be a very subtle and long ranging war of timing, quiet words in back rooms, and "unintentional" slights that will attempt to have the overall effect of weakening the WGA's bargaining position the next time they have to come to the table.

I don't think it will work, though. I think the genie is out of the bottle. The internet is a dangerous tool. We all know too much, and have access to too much, to turn back now. Talent will prevail, in spite of the small minds that try to squelch it.

Maybe writers will just have to have their own awards show on the Web... now THAT would be awesome!!
I'm pretty partial to Maureen Ryan's rant at this point. Win quote, for me:
The fact is, this is a niche-ified world. Desperately scrambling to fight that tide is not going to work, and all the Emmy folks have done is alienate people who make TV and those who follow it most passionately.
Emphasis added.
I would imagine that in some way, this all goes back to the strike when Hollywood power players first learned that the general public is genuinely interested in the people who write our favorite shows


The general public doesn't give two hoots about the writers. Which is probably the main reason why the Emmy head honchos made this decision.
Recognition is power. The power to rethink things. I hear some of the re cognition ignition igniting here: Strike on us? We'll unrecognize you back to the stone age and then some!

Grr-effing-arg.
I afraid that Simon is correct in his prognosis. Which really sucks because there's little we can do about it.

Are we really sure we can't start the world again? I had a few ideas....
"Let there be Nachos. And there were, and it was good".

I'm a bit confused as to what this actually means. Does it mean only the later showings for different time-zones will feature writers awards at all ? Or will the presentations be mixed into one of those rolling reels where they also give the award for "Best Guy That Brought Doughnuts That Time" or "Best Hair ... Removed From An Actor's Soup" ? Or are they "just" cutting the length of those segments so that we avoid the awkward clapping as people make their way to the podium after hugging and shaking hands with everyone they ever met and get straight to the juicy speeches ?

If the latter I don't mind so much though I do take Ron Moore's point that it makes sense to do that across the board - why do we care who Hugh Laurie hugs on his way to the stage more than we care who David Shore hugs ?

If the former then it's obviously a pretty disgusting (and deliberate) snub towards the people who are (especially in television) right at the root of what makes a show great.
So much for television being the writer's medium. I'm trying to imagine them cutting "Best Original Screenplay" from the Oscar's--or perhaps a better analogy would be "Best Director."

I would hope that the public would be a little more educated about what television writers do after they nearly brought Broadcast to a standstill. Still doesn't mean they care though.
I was assuming it was the former, Saje, when I commented up top. But reading NPH's comments, it sounds more like the latter. Although yes, I agree: in that case, it should be done for all awards.
Even if it's the latter I guess I can see the writers being worried about this being a step down the slippery slope (the assumption's fallacious but that obviously doesn't mean it never happens, especially when there's, let's say history between them).
Oh, cry me a river, networks. So your shows aren't getting all the awards anymore (they must long for the days when The West Wing and NYPD Blue did really well--I'm not slighting those shows, haven't got around to them yet), haven't been since The Sopranos did the most for putting premium cable on the map and it gradually started winning almost everything in the `00s (although notice that networks still do well for comedies ? The Office, well-deserving, 30 Rock, or inexplicably Two and a Half Men continually getting nominated).

As others have said here, don't re-format the Emmys and piss off the writers just 'cause you suck--make better shows ! Sure, there're still some great shows on regular network TV and a few good new ones pop up every year, but the ratio is in a sad-looking state, compared to pay-cable. Networks air new stuff from Sunday to Friday night (Saturday is usually for sports or a movie, seems like), but on average it seems like 80 to 90% of that output is exceedingly mediocre or crap. A station like HBO or Showtime only airs new material for an hour or two, two nights of the week (HBO has True Blood, Hung, and Entourage on Sunday nights and airs Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday nights, Showtime has Monday nights, with Nurse Jackie and whatever else they're currently running I think), but it's rare that a cable show sucks hard.

I don't know what kind of stranglehold laws have (FCC?) on network-TV either, but it'd be great if networks were free to exercise the right to have way less censorship after 9pm. A show doesn't have to have unrestrained swearing, nudity, sexuality, and violence, but when it's allowed to it certainly hamper's the writer's ability to tell a story a lot less. And let's be honest, if I have a choice of cop dramas between The Shield on FX and one of the various clone procedurals on network (CSI and other cop-drama fans, don't get your backs up, I know there're a few well-made network cop dramas), I and many others who have FX are gonna go with The Shield. Or True Blood on HBO over The Vampire Chronicles on the CW (although I know many will check out both).

Networks are dinosaurs, that's why they're not winning as many industry-respected awards.

Too bad HBO, Showtime, or AMC won't get a crack at airing them.

[ edited by Kris on 2009-08-04 20:48 ]
Simon, while I value your opinion, I respectfully disagree. More and more writers are becoming household names to "regular" people like me. I don't know about you, but I didn't know the names J.J. Abrams, Shonda Rhimes, Jane Espenson, Ron Moore, Chuck Lorre, David Fury, Seth MacFarlane, Doug Petrie and Ed Bernero even 5 years ago, much less 10. There are entire fan sites for writers, hello- we are posting on one!- that you would never have seen 10-15 years ago. There is unprecedented access and "back and forth" communication between writers and fans on the internet now. And if conventions, like Comic Con, aren't at least in part celebrations of writers, then I don't know what is. Tell me... if Grey's Anatomy were St. Elsewhere, would we even know who in the world Shonda Rhimes is? Nobody cared back then. But they are starting to care now. It's not just us Whedonites. People from every fandom showed up to support writers during the strike. I think instead of us being quick to write people off and saying something like, "Oh, they don't care" and maybe thinking of them as the great, unwashed masses of sheeple, we should be welcoming new people who are fans of writers and educating them wherever possible. It can only improve the position of our writer-type friends in the future.

And isn't that what being a fan is all about?
Yes but an online fandom is tiny compared to the rest of the people who watch a tv show. Certainly there is greater access to the writers and fans do feel attached to them but that's about it. If four million people in the States watch Dollhouse, only a handful of them will care about who is writing the show. The vast majority of people will be interested in the actors and the plotlines. Joss Whedon is not that much a household name, very few if any of the tv writers are.
I've damn well made Joss Whedon a household name to people who know me.
Honestly this sickens me. It totally brings me back to the writers strike and so many times when I informed people that tv was at a stand still in so many areas because of the writers strike, almost every reaction was something along the lines of-lazy hacks get back to work I want my tv. Ignorance on how things work, even basic concepts like tv seem to escape the average person and unfortunately apathy and ignorance breeds contempt for the inner workings. The Emmy's just seem less and less significant to me now. I know it's cliche but I hope writers can take some comfort in that us loyal to the art form will always appreciate it and know who is behind the creativity and brilliance and know a greedy power move when we see one.
BreatheStory said "So much for television being the writer's medium. I'm trying to imagine them cutting "Best Original Screenplay" from the Oscar's--or perhaps a better analogy would be "Best Director."

"Best Director" would be a poor analogy because it'd never happen. Directors wouldn't stand for it.

silent knight, in response to the audience being ignorant of how things work, isn't it up to the writers to better ensure they market themselves well? Higher, better billing; not getting bumped at award shows; etc, etc, etc.

Some part of me thinks: if people don't know the writers whose fault is that, the people or the writers? Surely it's not this simple (yet maybe a portion of it is).
Speaking of directors, their own union now says the changes are a "material breach". The threat, in essence, the guilds could use is to block their agreement that lets the Emmys show clips without paying any fees.
Fun fact. Google "Joss Whedon" and "Eliza Dushku" - you get 1,800,000 for Whedon and 2,070,000 for Dushku. I'd say that Joss is as big a draw for Dollhouse as Dushku is. But hey, this is just another gauge through internet so it's easily discounted.

The reason actors have more recognition over writers is obvious - visibility. Writers have their names on the credits, but rarely have the opportunity to be recognized outside of their work. And now they're being penalized and their cookie taken away when they fianlly do get to have that visibility? When they've earned this recognition on an awards show? The Emmys are one of the few times that writers get their just dues for excellence. But it's not entertaining enough apparently. Isn't this move just taking the awards one step closer to popularity over quality?

The whole thing stinks.
Re: "Best Director analogy"

All I meant was that television is generally considered a writer's medium and film is generally considered a director's medium--as in whose vision makes it to the screen. ; )
I wonder why Joss didn't sign the letter? Perhaps he's busy with Dollhouse stuff...

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