The Emmys have big problems. Luckily we have solutions!

Boreanazconrademmy_lOne moment said it all about last Sunday’s Emmy Awards. Did you see when Bones‘ David Boreanaz presented the Outstanding Guest Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series awards alongside The Hills‘ Lauren Conrad? Usually the most affable of actors, Boreanaz, introduced by Heidi Klum as star of The Bones, could barely bring himself to look at Conrad. His dead stare and body-language said, "I was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, two great shows this academy barely even acknowledged. Now I’m acting in another hit show, and I have to hand out an award with a reality star? Get me outta here!"

And, indeed, many of us wanted outta there. The 60th annual Emmy Awards scored the lowest ratings since 1990 (12.3 million viewers, down from 13 million last year), and more Americans wanted to watch their Sunday night football. The use of five reality-show hosts — Klum, Howie Mandel, Ryan Seacrest, Tom Bergeron, and Jeff Probst — to emcee the night led to more awkward pauses than the 90210 cast trying to order something off a KFC menu.

What to do to fix the Emmys? Start with these ideas.

Make Neil Patrick Harris the new host. The smooth guy uttered the most succinct critique of the night—"Thanks to Howie Mandel’s prattling, our bit has been cut"—and that’s typical of his ad-lib aplomb.

Cut it to two hours. What to remove? Here’s a start: Don’t bother airing the Best Miniseries/TV-Movie categories. The industry long ago ceded this genre to HBO (last year: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee; this year: John Adams and Recount). There’s already a nonbroadcast, pre-Emmy Awards ceremony for lesser categories, so let the cabler get its predictable slew of trophies off-camera.

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Refine the nostalgia. Instead of an onslaught of embarrassinglyrushed salutes (the Laugh-In tribute was so…sad), pick one show anddive deep into its history, with the best scenes and whatever survivingstars would make the most coherent, emotional presentation. Look at thesmartly done TV Land Awards for pointers on this.

Show us clips from nominated shows. But here’s the key: not just anyclips. Since it’s now made public in advance which episodes actorssubmit for Emmy consideration, broadcast a few moments of theperformances they chose as their best work to the Emmy panels. Thiswould make home viewers instant Emmy judges, adding an element ofinteractive fun. And, hmmm—d’you think handing out a viewers’-choiceaward or two would result in some fresh or underrated shows beingrecognized? I think it might. Battlestar Galactica, there would behope for you yet!.

Oh yeah—that new reality-show-hosting award, snagged by Probst?That’s going to get as tedious as the reality-show award. We love TheAmazing Race (but after a sixth win, a snooze on the Emmys) and weadore the Probster, but, really, these folks don’t need their ownaward. To the television academy: Have the guts to announce it was aone-time experiment that failed, and use the time to let trainedperformers entertain us, as God and Lucille Ball intended. And spare usthe future spectacle of Heidi Montag in a red wig doing a Lucy tribute.

Comments (62 total) Add your comment
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  • Mells

    NPH or Ricky Gervais for next year’s host! I agree with your suggestion of a People’s Choice – BSG needs some love!

  • Catherine

    Get rid of all king realty related television show or “stars”. Focus on good tv!! It’s quite simple really!

  • Anonymous

    Conan should host it every year — he was awesome.

  • el

    People who watch the Emmys are people who like TV. People who like TV don’t care about reality shows, they care about the talent and craft that goes into creating something worth watching every week. Don’t underestimate the viewer! I remember last year or the year before, it was discussed that Hugh Laurie was a possible host, but the Emmy committee decided that Americans wouldn’t be able to comprehend that he is a comedian. I think they replaced him with Ryan Seacrest? LAME! That should be in award show 101 — get a decent host!
    PS — Neil Patrick Harris is a fantastic idea, as long as they let him sing. :)

  • majigail

    Weird el, I like TV and reality shows AND care about the Emmys. Although someone else is long overdue to beat the Amazing Race!

  • Cory

    I agree with everything in this article. David B. had a good reason to be upset about his presenting partner. He should be insulted, and by the look on his face he was.

  • Kathleen

    NPH would be de – wait for it – lightful.
    Sorry. I had to.

  • Nix

    Who is Lauren Conrad?

  • Terri

    I’d like to see NPH and Eddie Izzard together bc that would be hi-larious. Ricky Gervais is great but I don’t know if he’d be able to pull off an entire awards show

  • Marn

    I am so on board for getting rid of the Miniseries/TV-Movie category.

  • Amanda

    I agree that NPH should host, but I do think reality shows deserve their kudos. I hardly watch any and I am sick of seeing The Amazing Race win, but I definitely think it takes skill to produce a reality show–and to host one.

  • Melinda65

    “The Probster”–really lame comic-book villain, or worst superhero ever?

  • SarahP

    I think a People’s Choice category is a great idea. I’d go one step further, and break it into two awards – one for the show, and one for an actor/actress. Maybe even add a rule that it would have to be for a show or individual who wasn’t already nominated? But maybe not, since often the really good ones do get nominated, they just don’t win the awards they deserve (what’s up NPH and Amy Poehler??).

  • Ames

    You’re right about the best movie/mini-series. since they are always on premium cable, I never see any of them when the emmies air (but sometimes rent the winners). But people’s choice award? I hate to say it but Two and a Half Men would win.

  • Cee

    The miniseries awards took up half the show! And many viewers of the emmys don’t even have premium cable, so those awards mean nothing. I also LOVE the idea of showing clips of nominated shows–that’s the best part of the oscars for me! (next to the dresses…)

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