Emmys 2018: Special Events Yield New ‘Apples to Apples Competition’ Rules

Variety | 6/18/2018 | Jacqueline Cutler
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Live television events, such as award shows or concerts featuring Jennifer Lopez or John Legend ripping up the stage, can make a TV audience feel like they’re sitting in the front row. But are they the same thing as a taped show of a comic standing at the mic? The Emmys don’t think so, which is why they’ve reorganized the previously murky variety special class categories into variety special (live) and variety special (pre-recorded).

“[Now] it’s a more apples-to-apples competition, with live-to-air variety specials in one category and live-to-tape variety specials in another,” says John Leverence, senior vice president of awards at the Television Academy.

Class - Term - Years - Mélange - Events

With “special class” a loose term, prior years saw a mélange of diverse special events crowded together and competing against each other. But producers who have worked on both types of special programs maintain that nothing rivals the high-stakes of live shows.

“The energy, the spontaneity, when you capture that moment — that translates to viewers at home,” says Bart Stephens, executive producer of “DirecTV Now Super Saturday Night: Jennifer Lopez,” which aired live on AT&T Audience Network. Her pre-Super Bowl concert could have been taped, Stephens acknowledges, but “we feel it is a better presentation live.”

Category - Honors - Art - Form - Television

The first new category honors the specialized art form of live television, which includes split-second decision-making by producers and the need to be flexible as the unexpected occurs.

“You can cue a musician, you can’t cue a lioness on the hunt,” says Al Berman, executive producer of National Geographic’s “Earth Live.” “It was the feeling of breaking news … and you don’t know where the information is going to come from next and where...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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