Va­ri­ety’s exec ed­i­tor of TV De­bra Birn­baum looks back on a rich TV sea­son.

Variety - - Contents - DE­BRA BIRN­BAUM EX­EC­U­TIVE ED­I­TOR, TV, VA­RI­ETY

fifth year I’ve been over­see­ing Va­ri­ety’s Emmy is­sues, and in that time, the tele­vi­sion busi­ness — and there­fore the awards race — has changed in nearly every con­ceiv­able way.

Back then, Net­flix’s slate of con­tenders was just “House of Cards” and “Or­ange Is the New Black” (how quaint!); Ama­zon had just in­tro­duced the world to the Pf­ef­fer­man fam­ily of “Trans­par­ent”; and Hulu’s orig­i­nal con­tent strat­egy was a work in progress.

Five years later, the num­ber of se­ries has ex­ploded by every mea­sure, fun­da­men­tally re­shap­ing the Emmy race. With the his­toric win for “The Hand­maid’s Tale” last year — the first se­ries tro­phy for a stream­ing ser­vice — Hulu and its sis­ters firmly es­tab­lished them­selves as awards con­tenders.

Cam­paign­ing has got­ten ever more com­pet­i­tive, with ri­val stu­dios vy­ing to outdo each other with in­creas­ingly elab­o­rate stunts, screen­ers and par­ties. The tra­di­tional net­work cal­en­dar — with shows pre­mier­ing in Septem­ber and air­ing fi­nales in May — has given way to a year-round strat­egy, with a glut now de­but­ing in March and April, and even as late as May, just to be as of-the-mo­ment as pos­si­ble in the fi­nal days be­fore the el­i­gi­bil­ity win­dow closes.

And the mi­gra­tion of cre­ators from film to tele­vi­sion shows no sign of abat­ing. The best and bright­est in the busi­ness are now clam­or­ing to make their own se­ries — Julia Roberts, Ge­orge Clooney and Meryl Streep all have tele­vi­sion projects in the works, as do top film­mak­ers in­clud­ing Damien Chazelle, Guillermo del Toro and Patty Jenk­ins, among oth­ers.

It’s a boon for TV fans, to be sure. And while those of us who cover TV strug­gle to watch it all, I al­ways say I couldn’t do this job if I didn’t truly be­lieve that the best rises to the top. There have been heart­break­ing ex­cep­tions, I know (“Rec­tify” ranks as an un­sung hero), but for the most part, view­ers — and vot­ers — do find those hid­den gems that de­serve at­ten­tion.

Over the past five years, these is­sues have evolved, too. While our mis­sion has re­mained the same — high­light­ing the race’s top con­tenders, and hand­i­cap­ping them for vot­ers — our strat­egy has been rein­vented. In the com­ing weeks, we’ll pub- lish eight ex­tra edi­tions — each geared to a dif­fer­ent high-pro­file category, from ac­tors to se­ries to re­al­ity. We’ve added new fea­tures to high­light not only the ta­lent above the line, but also be­low the line, with our in- depth cov­er­age of the gifted ar­ti­sans who pour their ef­forts into bring­ing the sto­ries we love to life.

Our own Emmy-win­ning “Ac­tors on Ac­tors” se­ries — air­ing June 19 and 21 on PBS So­cal — pairs the top act­ing con­tenders for in­ti­mate, in- depth con­ver­sa­tions about their own paths to their roles. This year’s lineup is as com­pelling as ever, with the likes of Claire Foy (“The Crown”) and Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch (“Patrick Mel­rose”) open­ing up about their re­luc­tant path to fame, and Bill Hader (“Barry”) and Ja­son Bate­man (“Ozark”) ex­plor­ing their tran­si­tion to be­hind-the- cam­era roles. And leave it to Tif­fany Had­dish (“The Last O.G.”) — who sat down with John Leg­end (“Je­sus Christ Su­per­star Live”) — to bring her own hi­lar­i­ous spin to our stages.

And this year, we’ve in­tro­duced “Page to Page” — a new fea­ture look­ing at how a given novel or play gets reimag­ined for the small-screen ver­sion.

But the big­gest change of all is with our de­sign. We’ve got a new artis­tic team at Va­ri­ety, headed up by cre­ative di­rec­tor Robert Festino and photo di­rec­tor Jen­nifer Dorn. They’ve brought a fresh ap­proach to the pre­sen­ta­tion of these is­sues, and the re­sults are sim­ply stun­ning. I hope you’ll agree.

Yet it’s not just me cel­e­brat­ing a mile­stone this year — Septem­ber will mark the 70th an­niver­sary of the Emmy Awards them­selves.

I can’t think of a bet­ter ex­cuse for a cel­e­bra­tion! Happy Em­mys!

“WHILE THOSE OF US WHO COVER TV STRUG­GLE TO WATCH IT ALL, I AL­WAYS SAY I COULDN’T DO THIS JOB IF I DIDN’T TRULY BE­LIEVE THAT THE BEST RISES TO THE TOP.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.