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U.S. Emmy Awards overlook reality TV, with one chance left to make amends


By Wade Paulsen, 09/17/2003 

Back in July, we were enthusiastic that U.S. reality TV shows were nominated for Emmys in eleven different categories. Today, all we can say is ... ten down, one to go.

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The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presented Emmys in the 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in all of the categories except for the "most important" 28 on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2003. The remaining categories will be awarded during a prime-time broadcast on the Fox network this Sunday, Sept. 21.

Ten of the categories in which reality TV shows were nominated were included in these so-called "Creative Arts Emmy Awards." And the number of Emmys won by reality TV shows? Zero.

The only award left for which reality TV shows have been nominated is the award currently titled "Outstanding Reality-Competition Program." It should seem like a sure thing that a reality program wins this award, which was formerly entitled "Outstanding Special Class Program" and which was won by CBS's Survivor in 2001. However, the competitors consist of three reality programs and two "competition" programs, and -- judging by the results so far -- the reality programs are getting swamped.

In the Creative Arts Emmys, Fox's American Idol lost four times, Survivor lost three times, MTV's The Osbournes lost twice, and E!'s The Anna Nicole Show lost once. The main beneficiary of the reality shutout was PBS, which won four of these categories. Here are the category-by-category results, showing the nominated reality show and the winner:

  • Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program
    Nominated: Survivor: Thailand finale, CBS
    Winner: 75th Annual Academy Awards, ABC

  • Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multicamera)
    Nominated: Survivor: Thailand, "The Importance of Being Earnest," CBS
    Winner: Nova: Mountain of Ice, PBS

  • Commercial
    Nominated: "Pepsi Twist", The Osbournes
    Winner: "Fish", PBS Promo

  • Directing for Nonfiction Programming
    Nominated: American Idol, season 2 finale, Fox
    Winner: American Experience: The Murder of Emmett Till, PBS

  • Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multicamera)
    Nominated: Survivor: The Amazon, "More Than Meats The Eye," CBS
    Winner: Journeys with George, HBO

  • Lighting Direction (Electronic, Multicamera) for Variety, Music or Comedy Programs
    Nominated: American Idol, season 2 finale, Fox
    Winner: 75th Annual Academy Awards, ABC

  • Main Title Design
    Nominated: The Anna Nicole Show, E!
    Winner: Hysterical Blindness, HBO

  • Nonfiction Program (Alternative)
    Nominated: The Osbournes, MTV
    Winner: Cirque du Soleil: The Fire Within, Bravo

  • Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multicamera)
    Nominated: American Idol, season 2 finale, Fox
    Winner: American Masters: Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind, PBS

  • Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video for a Series
    Nominated: American Idol, season 2, episode 10, Fox
    Winner: Saturday Night Live, host Christopher Walken, musical guest Foo Fighters, NBC

We find it difficult to believe that not ONE creative or technical person on a reality TV show was the best at what he or she did during the year. However, there is still one category to be awarded during the Primetime Emmy show on Sept. 21:

Best Reality-Competition Program
  • The Amazing Race, CBS

  • American Idol, Fox

  • Survivor, CBS

  • 100 Years of Hope and Humor (Bob Hope tribute), NBC

  • AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Passions: America's Greatest Love Stories, CBS

We note, though, that Bob Hope died this summer (after the show aired) and that the AFI special has already won an Emmy (for Multicamera Picture Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or Special), so our expectations aren't very high that reality TV will avoid a second straight shutout at the Emmys.

So ... what can you do if you think reality TV is being undeservedly overlooked by the Emmys? Not much. But you can help to recognize the outstanding performances in reality TV by voting in the second annual Blowie Awards, sponsored by Reality TV World. The Blowies recognize outstanding ... and lackluster ... performances in the world of reality TV, as chosen by you, the viewer.

This year, to make our awards correspond to the Emmys from now on, we have changed the eligiblity period. Shows eligible for this year's Blowies aired between January 1, 2002 and the end of the 2002-03 TV season (which is always the last day of May sweeps -- May 21, 2003 this year -- the same cut-off date used for the Emmys). Because of this lengthy period, there were THREE episodes of Survivor eligible (Marquesas, Thailand, and The Amazon), as well as an assortment of reality shows that many of us loved ... and a few that we hated. You can see the final ballot -- and vote for your favorites -- by clicking here.

Maybe your favorite show won't win an Emmy. With your help, though, it can still win a Blowie.

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