September 23, 2023

Fox pushes for January, TV academy lobbies for November amid strike concerns (EXCLUSIVE)

November or January? The Television Academy and Fox are engaged in a debate over when this year’s 75 should aire annual Emmy Awards in the likely event that they have to postpone the ceremony. The Academy would like to move the show to November (something it also did in 2001), while Fox appears to be set for a January air date.

When the Television Academy announced this year’s Emmy Awards nominations on Wednesday, they downplayed — but still referenced — the Sept. 18 air date. Nevertheless, almost everyone involved within both the network and the organization knows that it is extremely unlikely that that date will be much longer.

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According to insiders, the Academy and Fox are waiting to see for sure if SAG-AFTRA goes on strike this week and joins the WGA in essentially shutting down all major Hollywood events. After that, a decision on when and how this year’s Emmys will be held is expected to be made in late July.

Canceling the show isn’t an option, especially given the Emmy’s 75 milestonee birthday. Instead, both the Academy and Fox agree that a postponement makes more sense, but the two sides disagree on when they think the show should take place now. The Academy’s preferred November date is a two-month shift that would have the ceremony in the fall and make it the first major awards show after (hopefully) the strikes are resolved and Hollywood is back to business.

However, it is ultimately Fox’s decision as they are the broadcast partner this year as part of the four-network “wheel deal.” And Fox seems pretty committed to a January date, arguing that the November calendar is already packed with NFL football and other events. A January date would likely be January 21, 2024, as the Golden Globes are scheduled for January 7 and the Critics Choice Awards on January 14.

All of this assumes the Emmys would stay on a Sunday – but as many have pointed out, the show really could (and has) run on any day of the week. And keep in mind that nothing is set in stone yet, which means all options are still on the table. (Including the possibility that the strike or strikes will be resolved and that the September 18 date may be saved.)

If Variety has previously written, there is a priority in moving the Emmys to November: In 2001, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks pushed the Emmy date, the first military action in Afghanistan pushed the broadcast back to November. At the time, a subdued Emmy broadcast was taking place in a smaller venue (the now-demolished Schubert Theater in Century City).

Waiting until January, on the other hand, risks an outdated Emmy race — with an eligibility window that ended six months earlier — amid more updated TV competition at the Globes, Critics Choice, and SAG Awards. The Emmys would also likely be overshadowed by those movie season awards shows (not to mention the NFL playoffs).

On the other hand, it would give Fox a chance to promote its midseason shows, and the Emmys could benefit from the promo attention it would get during those aforementioned NFL playoff games. It would also return the Emmys to where it all began: The first three Emmy ceremonies (in 1949, 1950, and 1951) all took place in January. The kudocast then began to creep into spring, not becoming a permanent September event until 1977.

In addition to the Primetime Emmys, there is also the question of when the Creative Arts Emmy Awards (currently scheduled for September 9 and 10) will take place. And a move would also affect the schedule of Jesse Collins Entertainment, which produces this year’s Emmys. (A move from the Emmys to January would make it difficult for the busy company to produce one of the winter season’s shows, for example).

Meanwhile, as the Primetime Emmys ponder a move, don’t forget that the Daytime Emmys also need to figure out when and where it will air on CBS since it’s been postponed from its original June date.

Since a Primetime Emmy move currently seems likely, the TV Academy will also have to determine whether to move the Phase 2 voting window, scheduled for August 17-28, to later. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, voting dates for Phase 2 were pushed back, with voting for Phase 1 moved to July; this time around, it’s unclear how and when the campaign can resume – or if it will have to take place without talent participation.

However, insiders expect the Academy to keep the Phase 2 calendar as it is, rather than risk complaints that a move could give certain contenders an unfair advantage over others. There is also the argument, made by some, that Phase 2 campaigns have never been as robust as Phase 1 (when FYC events and pop-up installations are common), and could continue without talent participation.

Should that be the case, and voting continues in August as planned, the TV Academy would simply sit on the results until the Emmy telecast finally takes place. There will be more to come, of course, as news moves quickly and pivot points are inevitable in these unprecedented times.

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