Neil Patrick Harris

Mathew Imaging/Getty Images

That's one giant step for tedium and self-congratulation, one giant leap for irrelevancy.

Just when it seemed like forces were aligning to make this year's Emmy Awards slightly, well, watchable, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has wussed out on plans to show mercy on viewers and cut eight categories from the prime-time kudosfest.

Instead, after complaints from the writers, directors and actors guilds, HBO and showrunners from more than 100 series (including 30 Rock, 24 and Weeds), the Academy will shoehorn the categories back into the telecast.

That means viewers will find out in real (long) time the winners for Best TV Movie and Miniseries, as well as Writing, Directing, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress for the long-form productions, along with Directing for Variety, Music and Comedy Series and Writing for a Drama Series.

All told 28 categories will be presented on air, pretty much ensuring the show will run overtime.

The original plans were to pretape their presentations and splice them back into the broadcast in more palatable, bite-size forms.

So much for playing to the audience. Pressure's on, NPH.

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Check out who's up for an award on the big night in our 2009 Emmys: Notable Nominees gallery.

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