And the Winner Is ... Not You, Dear Emmy Viewer

Why Would You Even Watch, Media Guy Wonders

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Depending on when you're reading this, you've probably already not watched the Emmys -- or you're busy making plans to not watch the Emmys.
Well, did you watch?
Well, did you watch? Credit: AP

If you did watch the Emmys, or you're making plans to, well, what gives? Your TiVo's busted? Or your TV's stuck on NBC and your remote-control batteries are dead?

One of the big stories, of course, leading up to the event this year was Emmy angst: not only having to do with the ongoing decline and fall of awards-show ratings in general, but in regard to the tragic scheduling of the Emmys this year during the dog days of August.

But never mind the ever-increasingly apathetic absentee audience. The other big story this year was a new set of nomination procedures meant to shake things up a bit, but instead resulting in unintended consequences like the incomprehensible shutout of "Lost."

It's unclear, though, if the new procedures precipitated the best Emmy back story in years: the hilarious, outrageous Ellen Burstyn nomination for her two-part, 15-second-total cameo in HBO's "Mrs. Harris." In the time it takes to semi-carefully scoop guacamole onto five Tostitos, the Oscar-winning actress somehow apparently did some of the best work seen on TV all year. (Man, she's good. And fast!)

Which is definitive proof positive of what everybody already knows: Emmy voters don't really watch all the stuff they're supposed to be watching before voting. And they get unduly swayed by all the cheesy "for your consideration" campaigns.

Well, actually, they're not all cheesy. Like, HBO (no surprise) sends out a really, really nice box set of selected episodes of all its shows. If I were an Emmy voter, it'd get my vote just for sending me that shit.

I'm not an Emmy voter, but I happen to know one -- a conscientious-objector Emmy voter, in fact, who tends not to vote because he simply doesn't have time to view all the screeners. I persuaded him, during the past many months, to let me see all the various Emmy campaign mailings sent to voters. They are, in sum total, mind-bogglingly, numbingly overwhelming. Though some nets and studios have been experimenting with online video delivery, stacks of DVD promo mailers still come every day during voting season.

A lot of them try to break through the clutter with gimmicks. NBC's "My Name Is Earl" DVD came with a giant Lotto-style card with three silvery scratch-and-win squares. (Underneath: allegedly funny "Earl" quotes like, "You steal enough purses, you learn a few things about Mace.") USA's "Ten Commandments" miniseries DVDs came encased in heavy plastic Moses-worthy tablets -- which surely only had the effect of making Prius-driving Emmy voters feel bad about contributing to another landfill or two. Four episodes of the hospital drama "House" came on a DVD encased in a faux IV bag filled with red liquid (blood from ritually sacrificed interns?). The "American Idol" DVD came packaged to look like an old-school 45-RPM record.

But the most cringe-inducing mailer was to plug a nomination for Shirley Jones in the Hallmark miniseries "Hidden Places." The DVD screener was encased in a glossy folder that looked like it was designed on an old Kaypro DOS computer (before anyone had heard of that newfangled thing called a "Mac"). It began with these words in giant type:

"NOW... we really can't ask you for your Shirley Jones Emmy vote (co-star, TV movie) till we some share [sic] Shirley Jones history with you ..."

The piece then outlined, in more giant type, Shirley's career history, starting with her Oscar win 46 years ago and ending with the words, "What a sweet 'comeback' an Emmy would be."

Look, if I were an Emmy voter, I'd have voted for Shirley without having seen "Hidden Places" simply because I grew up watching syndicated "Partridge Family" reruns. She was one hell of a cool mom -- who should have scored a special hazardous-duty Emmy for all the years she put up with Danny Bonaduce.

But a week or so after that hideous first mailer, a color Xerox followed, acknowledging, with a handwritten "Oops," the glaring typo -- the inversion of "some" and "share" -- in the original mailer. So I asked around and discovered that the party that bankrolled this whole "campaign" was Shirley's husband, Marty Ingels.

And then I really cringed.

There you have it; that's how Emmys are made: with junk mail, fake blood and proud husbands who've misplaced their bifocals.

Honey, what's on YouTube tonight?

E-mail: dumenco@gmail.com
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