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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

August 30, 2006

Tombers Contemplates the Importance of Fall Football

Sunday was a chill and rainy day in upstate New York; the air was damp, so damp that toward the end of the day I lit a fire in my Franklin stove, settling in to an evening of television. It was NOT my intention to watch the Emmys - the races I was concerned about, the Documentary Emmy Awards, had already been presented the previous Saturday evening. My friends Jon Alpert and Matt O'Neill had walked away with four for their brilliant BAGHDAD ER while acquaintance Vinnie Krayelivch had taken home two for ROME: BUILDING AN EMPIRE. These were presented at the Creative Arts Awards; which are eventually televised in an abbreviated form on Nick At Nite or TV Land -or may be it will be E! Entertainment, this year. I had wanted to watch those as I had an emotional horse in that race but couldn't even find them on the web.

However, having once been a Governor of that august body, The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and having attended the Emmys a number of times and having produced the Emmys for the web for a couple of years before the television networks caught on to the value of internet rights, I found myself drawn to them, a moth to the flame.

Friends were there as members of the audience and it was a little like settling down to spend some time with an old friend not often seen, somewhat cozy and a little strained.

I actually thought, for once, they were a rather good show. It didn't run overtime, which is something I don't ever remember happening and there were moments to treasure, including Conan O'Brien's take off on the Music Man number about trouble right there in River City. [Conan, when you tire of late night, Broadway beckons. It was the best moment of the night and you showed you had unsuspected talents and charm.]

However -and isn't there always a however- the Emmys normally happen in mid-September. You could set your calendar on that. They are traditionally held the Sunday before the new season kick-off which gives the host network an opportunity to crow about its new programs. Not this year. Why? NBC has Sunday Night Football and GOD FORBID anything, including the Emmys, interfere with Sunday Night Football.

Therefore, NBC moved the Emmys up out of its traditional spot and pushed the premiere Awards show of an industry into the dog days of August to avoid interfering with football.

NBC won the night even though the program ratings were down by 16% from last year; a result of being broadcast, I suspect, in almost the worst week of the year for watching television. Everywhere people are beginning to feel the hint of fall in the air; I am probably not the only person in the country to have lit a fire that evening. Anyone who is passionate about good weather in those parts of the country that have four seasons was probably out grabbing the last of the good times before the leaves turn.

To me, football has always seemed a great spoiler. The BIG game on Thanksgiving Day, whatever it was, always ran long, resulting in kitchen hysterics on the part of my mother, who inevitably ended by the sink in tears, bemoaning her perfect turkey was now going to be too dry due to being held captive in the oven, waiting for the final play to play itself out. [Not that better planning couldn't have made things easier at home.]

I have never liked football. To me it lacks the elegance of soccer or the intriguing dance-like strategic movements of basketball or the lazy symmetry of baseball. Brutal, overbearing in importance, it managed to cast a dark shadow across the best holiday of the year, Thanksgiving [all feasting and good will (til the turkey was ruined) without the demand of presents]. This year, it cast its pall on the Emmys, the biggest night of a now beleaguered industry, moving them to scheduling dog days, where an industry buries its dead programs, thereby diminishing an event that needs no diminishing by a prominent member of an industry that needs no diminution.

Football Uber Alles!