Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Emmy Awards Program Straight Up with Bryant Gumbel

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Emmy Awards Program Straight Up with Bryant Gumbel

Article excerpt

* He'll try to conduct the show with dignity, class and decorum.

BRYANT GUMBEL did a little Crystal-gazing to prepare for his role as Emmy host Sunday night.

Studying a videotape of last March's Oscar ceremony, Gumbel watched emcee Billy Crystal rock the audience with comic patter, song and dance - and decided to do it his way: straight. "He does this for a living and he does it very well," Gumbel said of Crystal. "That's not what I'm going to try to do." "I'm going to try to be inconspicuous and try to make sure the show goes smoothly, people enjoy themselves and the show seems seamless," Gumbel said. "And that it's conducted with a degree of dignity and class and decorum." Don Mischer, producer of the ceremony airing at 7 p.m. Sunday on Channel 4, says he's got the right man in Gumbel, who jumped from NBC's "Today" to CBS and is being showcased by his new network. "A good host is someone who can take you efficiently and gracefully through the evening," said Mischer. "Bryant's got a manner about him; he's easygoing, he's intelligent, he's totally comfortable with live television." He also won't feel compelled to unleash a laugh-getting zinger each time he appears, which can make a show look like it's simply trying too hard, Mischer said. If Emmy has any problems, they're not on the stage, the producer said - they're in the audience. "Seats are just a gigantic problem," Mischer said. "There's a demand that far, far exceeds the number available" at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Emmy's longtime home with a capacity of about 2,600. Take "ER," for example, the leading nominee with 22 bids - which just happens to equal the number of places allotted for the drama's large slate of producers and one guest each. That figure doesn't even include nominated "ER" stars like Anthony Edwards, Julianna Margulies and their guests. The shortage leaves even network executives scrambling for tickets, let alone awards. The trophies, of course, are the real goal, especially in a year when Home Box Office nearly nudged the Big Three broadcast networks out for the most bids, ultimately falling just two shy of NBC's 92 nominations. Leading series nominees include HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show" with 16 nominations, Fox's "The X-Files" with 12, ABC's "NYPD Blue" with 11 and NBC's "Seinfeld" and "Frasier" with nine nods each. For those watching the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences ceremony at home, the truly pressing issue is whether the three-hour show will be a dud or a doozy. The lineup of presenters is properly starry, including Candice Bergen; Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny of "The X-Files"; Glenn Close; Laurence Fishburne, Alfre Woodard and funnymen and women including Bob Newhart, Garry Shandling and Ellen DeGeneres. A behind-the-scenes look at how television shows are put together, with emphasis on the relationship between actors and the crews that support their efforts, is in the works. Footage was shot on the sets of "ER," "NYPD Blue," "JAG" and "3rd Rock from the Sun," among others. One segment will focus on camera, lighting and other technical crews, with make-up and hair styling taking center stage in another filmed piece. The ceremony also will look at television's ability to "confront and explore issues with a real power and sense of immediacy," Mischer said, demonstrated through clips from dramas, films and other programs. All this must be tightly packaged to leave room for the main event, 28 awards and acceptance speeches. …

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