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Tina Fey

After the Emmys, What Does Winning Mean?

September 22, 2008 02:46 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
Now that the awards have been handed out, what does an Emmy actually mean to the actors, directors, writers, editors and other contributors who win them?

What’s in an Emmy?

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The Emmys mean different things to different people, according to Joanne Weintraub of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. For television shows, the award can help them stay on the air longer. Networks use their victories to laud “their own restless, relentless, positively selfless pursuit of excellence.”

And for the performers, an Emmy can make a difference, too. In 2005, the Chicago Tribune lamented the fact that the show “Gilmore Girls” had repeatedly been passed over for an Emmy nomination. The fact that actress Lauren Graham hadn’t been nominated for her work was “astonishing,” series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino stated. “In business terms, there’s a little more shine when you go to make your next deal and you’ve got a fancy statue sitting next to you and your lawyer,” she said.

Some actors and actresses are nominated repeatedly for their work. In fact, Weintraub said her only “quibble” with the Emmys is that some individuals seem to receive “nods given in recognition of previous nods.” But on the whole, “the Emmys matter,” she conceded. People are recognized for their achievements, and “you can almost believe, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that excellence counts.”

The Emmys also represent a chance for television shows to make their mark on TV history. This year, the show “Mad Men” won the award for best drama, the first for a cable series. And cable newcomer “Damages” earned two prizes, a lead-actress award for Glenn Close and a supporting actor award for Zeljko Ivanek. HBO’s “John Adams” became the most honored miniseries with 13 Emmy wins.

The Emmy that Wasn’t

For some, the Emmy experience isn’t as grand as it can be for big-name actors and actresses. In 2005, David Ehrman wrote about his time as an Emmy nominee for co-writing “A Flintstone Family Christmas.” The ceremony for Ehrman’s award was held prior to the televised Emmys, in the basement of the same auditorium where the televised awards are given. “The upstairs Emmys mirror the Oscars, nominees in plush seats, roving cameras, breathless interviews with Joan Rivers along the red carpet, and big-name comedy stars hosting the event,” Ehrman wrote. “Downstairs we were served cheap chicken dinners like it was closing night at a Shriners convention.” (Ehrman didn’t receive an Emmy that year.)

Awards Show Influence

In a world where awards shows frequently give celebrities a large stage for voicing their political opinions, the 2008 Emmys were decidedly understated, according to The New York Times. “Live award shows always have found it awkward hitting the right note in uncertain times—the contrast between the glitz and celebrity self-celebration and war or hurricane devastation is too acute.”

The Who’s Who (or What’s What) of TV and Film Awards

Three organizations, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences oversee the Emmy Awards. The Emmys symbolize peer recognition for achievements in the television industry. Three of the most prominent Emmy awards are the Primetime Emmy Awards, the Daytime Emmy Awards and the L.A. Area Awards.

The Oscars
(or the Academy Awards) are considered “the highest honor in filmmaking.” Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences vote in secret for the winners of these awards, meaning the Oscar “represents the best achievements of the year in the opinion of those who themselves reside at the top of their craft,” according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Web site.

The People’s Choice Awards
offer the American public the chance to cast a vote for their favorite films, TV shows and performers. Meanwhile the Teen Choice Awards are chosen by, yes, teens. Recipients include actors, athletes and musicians. Interestingly, this award is frequently the first “Show Business” award a star receives.
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