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U.S. Emmy Award nominations honor 'Amazing Race,' 'American Idol,' 'Survivor' and other reality shows


By Wade Paulsen, 07/17/2003 

Reality TV may make famous TV producer David E. Kelley mad. But a lot of other people in Hollywood found a lot to like in the reality genre this year, resulting in five different reality shows (airing on four different networks -- CBS, Fox, MTV and E!) receiving a total of 12 Emmy nominations. (The Los Angeles Times provides a complete list of Emmy nominees, for those who want to look for themselves.)

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The major news is that, for the first time, an Emmy will be awarded in the category of Outstanding Reality-Competition Program, replacing the former Outstanding Special Class Program category (which CBS's Survivor was nominated for and won in 2001 and nominated for again but lost last year). Three reality shows were nominated in this new category: Survivor, its CBS stablemate The Amazing Race, and Fox's American Idol.

In addition, two "special class" shows were nominated in this category, despite the name and focus change: NBC's Bob Hope tribute, 100 Years of Hope and Humor, and CBS's AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Passions: America's Greatest Love Stories. Since we think even Hollywood types would be embarrassed if the Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Emmy was won by a show which was not a reality-competition program, we feel safe in stating that reality TV shows will win at least one Emmy this year.

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Survivor, which was nominated for six Emmys two years ago (winning two) and four Emmys last year (two for Africa, one for Marquesas, and the overall Emmy, but winning none) was nominated for four Emmys again this year. Its other three nominations were for Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program (for the Thailand finale); Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (for the Thailand episode "The Importance of Being Earnest"); and Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (for the Amazon episode "More Than Meats the Eye"). We happen to believe that Survivor richly deserves a cinematography Emmy nomination, which it received in 2001 but not last year -- and it also deserves a cinematography Emmy.

American Idol, however, garnered the most nominations for a reality show this year, with five. All of its other nominations (save one) were for the Idol 2 finale. They came in the categories of Outstanding Direction for Nonfiction Programming; Outstanding Lighting Direction for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program; Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming; and Outstanding Technical Direction, Camewrawork, Video for a Series (for episode #10 of Idol 2).

In addition to Survivor, Idol, and The Amazing Race, another reality show was nominated for best overall program -- but in a different category, as it isn't a competition program. MTV's The Osbournes received a nomination for Outstanding Nonfiction Program (Alternative). Also, the "Pepsi Twist" commercial featuring and spoofing the Osbournes was nominated for Outstanding Commercial.

The other reality show to pick up a nomination was E!'s The Anna Nicole Show, which earned a nomination for the best thing about the show: Outstanding Main Title Design. According to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Emmys will be broadcast live on Fox from the Shrine Auditorium in L.A. on September 21, 2003. We can hardly wait.

We also note, somewhat to our amusement, that the generally anti-American U.K. paper The (Manchester) Guardian takes credit for the British Isles origins of both American Idol, created by Brit Simon Fuller, and Survivor, created by Irishman Bob Geldof and Brits Charlie Parsons and Lord Alli. However, the paper isn't content with taking credit just for the intellectual property; it adds that both programs "first aired in the UK."

Say what? American Idol did indeed first air in the UK, as Pop Idol, with Simon Cowell as a judge. But Survivor? Nope. For the Guardian's benefit, we repeat once again that Survivor first aired in SWEDEN, under the name Expedition: Robinson, and then was licensed to Eco-Challenge producer Mark Burnett for a U.S. version, which ultimately turned out to be somewhat different from the Swedish version. The U.K. networks turned the idea down repeatedly and never aired Survivor until AFTER it was a U.S. smash hit. We trust the Guardian will include a correction in tomorrow's edition.








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