FOOTBALL DESTROYS EMMYS IN RATINGS
The "Primetime Emmy Awards" on Fox drew the kudocast's second smallest audience on record Sunday night, averaging 13.1 million viewers, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen. NBC's Sunday Night Football is expected to draw almost 20 million viewers after everything is tallied up.
This year's audience comes in well below the 16.2 million that NBC garnered for its late-August telecast a year ago and the 18.7 million that watched on CBS two years ago. That puts television's biggest night behind the most recent audience for other kudocasts like the Academy Awards on ABC (40.2 million), the Grammy Awards on CBS (20.1 million), the Golden Globe Awards on NBC (20.0 million) and the Country Music Assn. Awards on ABC (16.0 million).
In adults 18-49, this year's preliminary 4.3 rating/11 share is a 17% falloff from last year's 5.2/13 and believed to be the lowest on record. It was the night's No. 2 program in the demo, with NBC's New England-San Diego NFL matchup expected to produce roughly a 6.7 rating/17 share.
The smallest Emmy audience on record remains the 1990 telecast, also on Fox, which drew 12.3 million viewers.
'SOPRANOS', '30 ROCK', WINNERS AT EMMY'S
It was something old and something new at the Emmys.
"The Sopranos" made history by whacking its dramatic competition in its swan-song year, and the ratings-challenged new sitcom "30 Rock" rolled to a much-needed win.
By being crowned best series at the 59th annual Primetime Emmys Sunday, HBO's mob series becomes the first drama to record a walk-off Emmy in three decades—an understandable trend, given the heat that traditionally tends to surround newer kids on the block.
Although "Everybody Loves Raymond" left in high style two years ago, before that the only final-season recipients were "Barney Miller" in 1982, and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Upstairs, Downstairs" in 1977.
"Sopranos" also feathered its Emmy nest—which included a previous best drama win in 2004, out of seven total best drama nominations—with awards for director Alan Taylor and series creator David Chase in the writing category.
Stars James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, however, must settle for the Emmys they took home in 2003, coming up on the short end of the voting to "Boston Legal's" three-time winner James Spader and Sally Field for another ABC drama, newcomer "Brothers & Sisters."
The win against Gandolfini prompted Spader to say, "I feel like I just stole a pile of money from the mob."
Completing a rather remarkable arc, "30 Rock" goes from being that other "Saturday Night Live"-inspired backstage TV show that NBC developed in 2006—the other being the since-canceled "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"—to an Emmy recipient, albeit one much in need of whatever benefits that honor carries based on its little-seen freshman year.
Series creator and star Tina Fey thanked the show's "dozens and dozens of viewers," while expressing hope that the new regime at NBC will be as supportive as the one that developed the show.
WGA TALKS HOLD LITTLE OPTIMISM
Strike fever's about to hit Hollywood hard.
With WGA negotiations set to resume Wednesday, the saber-rattling is growing louder and the public posturing more pointed. So there's little optimism that the town's scribes will reach a deal with studios and nets by the Oct. 31 expiration of the WGA contract.
Most expect that the guild won't strike at that point but rather tell its members to keep working under terms of the expired deal in hopes of securing a better one once SAG negotiates next year prior to its June 30 expiration.
Still, the WGA's not taking the strike option off the table. It's converted the members' lounge at its headquarters into a strike HQ, and WGA West prexy Patric Verrone admits the guild could schedule a strike authorization vote by early next month.
Belligerence between the two sides has grown since two acrimonious days of bargaining in July. The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers proposal—a revolutionary revamp of residuals in which payments would be triggered only when producers recoup basic costs—is still reverberating two months later.
AMPTP prexy Nick Counter contends that fast-shifting showbiz economics have left the companies with no choice but to come in with their guns blazing. He cites soaring costs of film and TV, uncertainty over Internet revenues and flat DVD growth, rattling off MPAA stats showing an average deficit of $70 million per film.
"We are in a high state of deficit financing," he added. "We've made the same argument in the last two rounds of negotiations, but the difference this time is that we've put forth a formula to deal with it. The idea evolved gradually, but we are now at a crisis stage."
The guild's flatly rejected the notion of changing the residuals structure and is promising that the idea will be turned down without further discussion if it's broached at negotiations.
"It's not a serious proposal," Verrone said. "We have no interest in dignifying it as a means of paying residuals in new media or in the traditional markets."