In a joint statement Friday, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and CBS announced the 53rd Prime-Time Emmy Awards--postponed following the horrific hijack attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.--will take place October 7 in Los Angeles, three weeks after it was originally scheduled.
"Our organizations have spent a considerable amount of time during the past week discussing the appropriate date for the show in light of the devastating events that took place earlier this week. As such, we have decided it is appropriate to delay the Emmys until October 7, at which time we will present a program that is different in tone and approach."
The ceremony was supposed be this Sunday but was called off "out of respect to the victims, their families and our fellow citizens."
According to Tom O'Neil, E! Online's resident Emmy expert and author of The Emmys and Movie Awards, the postponement is "unprecedented in Emmy history." "In the past, TV academy leaders always decided, in the great Hollywood tradition, to go on with the show no matter what happened," O'Neil says, "even in 1980 when no stars showed up because of an actors' strike.
The only other time the Emmys were delayed was in 1978, when the ceremony started about an hour late so attendees could watch a live feed of the historic signing of the Israel-Egypt Camp David peace accords.
O'Neil says event organizers didn't want to appear "heartless" in the wake of the tragedy and struggled over how far to push back the ceremony. He says CBS wanted the Emmycast on September 23--one week late--but the Television Academy pushed for a longer delay, saying Americans needed more time to cope.
Finding a suitable time, especially at the start of the fall TV season, and solving logistical problems (the Shrine Auditorium is booked for other events), also came into play.
But, says O'Neil, "Nixing the Emmycast altogether was never an option to TV Academy chiefs. Television is how America is pulling together during this crisis. Its industry leaders are eager to call a town hall meeting and mourn together."
Expect the ceremony to be much more subdued than originally conceived. "Traditionally, the Emmys are a tribute to the television industry, however on this night the industry will also join together with the nation to re-affirm the spirit of the American people," the Television Academy and CBS say in their statement.
"Executive Producer Don Mischer and his production team are working towards creating a program that is respectful and that expresses the solidarity between the television community and the American people in dealing with this tragedy."
Host Ellen DeGeneres' opening monlogue has been scrapped as has a skit featuring members of the Saturday Night Live troupe poking fun at President George W. Bush and former Vice President Al Gore, according to the Hollywood Reporter. There will likely be a moment of silence, as well as a special tribute to David Angell, the Emmy-winning producer of Frasier and Cheers who was on one of the doomed jetliners.
The three-week delay of the Emmycast is believed to be the longest in Hollywood award-show history. The Oscars were put off for for two days following the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Following the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, the Oscars were also delayed a day.
Meanwhile, the Latin Grammys, which were scheduled to be shown live on CBS on the day of the attacks, have been canceled outright. Organizers are now exploring ways to distribute awards to winners.