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
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!