After wrangling for weeks over what's appropriate following the September 11 terrorist attacks, producers for the Emmy Awards say they will take a more subdued, somber approach--without ditching the red carpet altogether.
TV's big night will go on as scheduled October 7, after it was postponed from its original September 16 date. Ellen DeGeneres will still host the affair. But instead of the comedian giving a wacky monologue, former CBS newsman Walter Cronkite will handle the night's opening remarks.
"This year, the show will be different in its approach," producer Don Mischer says in a statement. "It will not be the Emmy Awards as usual."
Among the major changes: Tuxedoes and extravagant gowns will be dumped in favor of "dressy business attire." The red-carpet area at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium will remain intact, but gone are the bleachers with screaming fans. And, while many networks canceled their own post-show parties, the annual Governors' Ball will still be held--but this time it's being called a "Unity Dinner."
Organizers also are eliminating one-on-one press tents for entertainment TV programs.
For the ceremony itself (which airs on CBS), Mischer says there will be "limited music" and "the awards process itself will be significantly understated."
"In addition, various videotape packages are being prepared to honor the heroes of the tragic events that took place September 11," Mischer said. One of them will feature NYPD Blue star Dennis Franz in a special tribute to New York's finest and bravest. Viewers also can expect a moment of silence in remembrance of David Angell, the Emmy-winning producer of Frasier and Cheers who was on one of the doomed jetliners September 11.
Producers said most of the original presenters are still committed to the October 7 show. But who else decides to show up for the awardsfest still appears up in the air.
Last week, HBO said none of the stars from its New York-based shows, The Sopranos and Sex and the City (which combined for 32 nominations), had committed to flying to Los Angeles for the Emmys, opting instead to stick close to home. No word yet on whether James Gandolfini, Sarah Jessica Parker and the rest of the casts have changed their minds.
Either way, this year's three-week Emmy delay goes down as the longest in Hollywood awards-show history. The Oscars were put off for two days following the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and they were also delayed one day in 1981, following the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.