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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, September 18, 2001

The September 11th attack
Emmys to air Oct. 7 with different tone

USA Today

The Primetime Emmy Awards have been rescheduled for Oct. 7, but the business of handing out statues between joke-filled monologues won't happen this year.

Ellen DeGeneres will be host of the 53rd annual Emmy Awards, which producers say won't include most of the usual frivolity and joking around.


Instead, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is promising a ceremony "different in approach and tone," one that "reaffirms the spirit of the American people" while celebrating the TV industry.

"The presentation has been affected dramatically by the events" of last week, says Bryce Zabel, the television academy's new chairman and CEO. "We want to do something that helps, not something that offends."

The 53rd annual Emmys, originally scheduled for last Sunday in Los Angeles, were stalled three weeks by the terrorist

attacks on New York and the Pentagon, marking the first time the ceremony has been postponed, says Emmy historian Thomas O'Neil.

CBS, which will carry this year's awards, had pushed for a one-week delay, hoping to reschedule the awards for Sunday, the eve of the new start date for the fall season. But the academy nixed the plan, fearing the date was still too close to the tragedy.

And logistical concerns made that impractical.

Ellen DeGeneres, who stars in a CBS sitcom now scheduled to premiere Sept. 24, will remain host, but producers say the usual frivolity will be largely absent from the awards, a reminder of the tragedy that left thousands dead.

Producers have scrapped plans for a show heavy on political humor — a nod to a top nominee, NBC's "The West Wing" — and a bit by "Saturday Night Live"'s Will Ferrell and Darrell Hammond playing President Bush and former Vice President Al Gore.

In other schedule changes, Fox has joined the Big Three networks in postponing its new season until Sept. 24, which will now become the official start for ratings purposes. Although the networks are returning to entertainment programming this week, most are reruns, with some exceptions:

• ABC has scheduled news specials every night through Friday, but will air the Miss America contest Saturday at 9 p.m. Hawai'i time as scheduled and a two-hour season premiere of "The Practice" on Sunday.

• CBS will premiere drama "Wolf Lake" at 8 p.m. tomorrow, following a new episode of "The Amazing Race." "Big Brother 2" wraps up with a two-hour episode at 7 p.m. tonight and a live finale Thursday at 8, while the Richard Dreyfuss drama "The Education of Max Bickford" will premiere Sunday.

• NBC on Sunday will air a two-hour special celebrating 50 years of late-night TV. But the network is postponing the season launch of rescue drama "Third Watch," originally due last night, until Oct. 8, with an episode about a New York City blackout that ads say paints the city as "under siege."

Newsmags are also toning down.

The three major syndicated entertainment newsmagazines, "Access Hollywood," "Entertainment Tonight" and "Extra," continued to produce shows last week, but they were pre-empted by news in all but a handful of markets.

"We've taken out the music and the pizzazz and toned it all down out of respect, but it's strictly informational," says "Access Hollywood" executive producer Gary Considine. "At some point we'll move out of that, but I don't know when that point is. It just shows how irrelevant we are, and we're fully aware of that. We're not going to sensationalize anything. That's not what it's about."

"Extra" may downplay entertainment for good. The show beefed up its coverage in that area after hiring Leeza Gibbons a year ago, planning to focus on it even more. Not now. "Our slogan is 'Extra' — entertainment and more.' And obviously, now we're embracing the more," says Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, who oversees "Extra" as Telepictures' senior executive producer for reality programming.

"We'll get back to entertainment, but we're all about the stories. And we're just telling different stories," she says.