This year's Primetime Emmy Awards brought plenty of predictable winners (Modern Family, The Amazing Race) but also offered up some new faces, like Homeland’s victory that kept Mad Men out of the record books. In his first year as chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (which puts on the Primetime Emmys), Bruce Rosenblum, president, Warner Bros. Television Group and office of the president, Warner Bros. Entertainment, spoke with B&C programming editor Andrea Morabito about the ratings, the surprises and sharing the stage with Ellen DeGenres. An edited transcript follows.
Did you rehearse your bit with Ellen beforehand?
No, we didn’t rehearse. Ellen is a trained professional and I’m a complete civilian, so before we walked on stage Ellen orchestrated what she thought would be best for both of us and strongly encouraged me to read the Teleprompter and not laugh.
Did you have any idea what she was going to do?
I knew a little bit of what she was planning and the balance I found out on stage, which was a lot of fun for all of us.
Were you nervous up there?
Naturally. It’s not what I do for a living, so standing up in front of all of those people was a bit uncomfortable and out of character. But Ellen certainly made it as comfortable as possible.
What was your reaction to the ratings? They were up in total viewers but down in the younger demo.
The Academy was thrilled. We were up 7% in total viewers, and I think that’s a validation of what Don Mischer produced, what Jimmy Kimmel was able to host and all the promotional efforts provided to the show by ABC. It was a great team effort and I think the team at ABC, and certainly the team at the Academy, are happy with the results.
Were you surprised by any of the winners?
I wouldn’t say I was surprised. I was certainly encouraged by the number of awards for first-year shows, and Homeland in particular. For the Academy membership to recognize the three of the 12 nominated shows for comedy and drama were first-year shows and then to award one of those shows with the Emmy for best drama is a great validation of all the great creative work being done around town.
What was your favorite part of the show?
It’s hard to say there was one favorite part. But the one that stood out for me was the opening tape that Jimmy did down in the bathroom. I thought the way he arranged to have all that talent participate with him and the creativity that he brought to it was terrific.
What needs to be better next year?
Not really my role. I know we’re looking forward to working with Les [Moonves, CBS Corp. CEO] Nina [Tassler, CBS Entertainment president] to ! nd the right producer, whether it’s Don or whomever Les and Nina select, and the right host for the show next year. It’s only a few days after this show. Creatively this show performed very well. Jimmy and Don worked very hard to deliver a creative, funny, engaging show that included a lot of new talent. I think you saw a meaningful number of new presenters and different ways of presenting the genres that were awarded. And kudos go out to Don and Jimmy and their team, as well as the team at ABC. This will be a hard act to follow, but we look forward to working with Les and Nina and the team at CBS next year.
Did you read reviews of the show?
I will read them. I haven’t had time yet, but I will. The real reviews are the fact that we were up in total viewers. Although I don’t have ! nal numbers, my understanding is the online Backstage at the Emmys numbers on ABC.com and Emmys.com were up meaningfully from year to year as well. So we’re starting to engage viewers on multiple platforms and bring the excitement of the Emmys to our viewers in different ways. And I’m sure we’ll continue to expand on that as we work with CBS next year.
You oversee both primetime and daytime TV at WBTVG. Has there been any new talk about getting the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which puts on the Daytime Emmys, together?
I’m new, I’ve only been here nine months. I can tell you in those first nine months, there hasn’t been a conversation. I’m aware that there have been conversations over the past decade about doing that. And if at some point in the future it makes sense, I’m sure we will be able to figure out how to work, whether it’s in partnership or more collaboratively, with NATAS. But no conversations have taken place in my first nine months with the Academy.
Is that a specific goal of yours at all, given your role?
It’s not on our agenda today. But if over the next handful of years we find opportunities to collaborate with them and work more closely, it would make sense for both of us to take advantage of those opportunities.
Are you talking about any possible rule changes for next year? Reality producers have been making noise for years about the lack of categories for them given the large amount of reality programming on TV now.
It’s too early to be talking about next year; we just came off of this year’s Emmys. We had a material decision that we made this year to include American Horror Story in the miniseries category. That wasn’t a rule change, that was just an interpretation of a rule. If we look at new rules for next year’s Emmys that will be several months from now, so it’s a bit premature.
E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter: @andreamorabito
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