LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) — The American-led air attacks on Afghanistan claimed a casualty at home on Sunday: the 53rd Annual Prime-Time Emmy Awards, a show usually watched by millions.
The Emmys, the television industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, were postponed because of the attacks, and no decision has been made on whether to hold the show at a future time or cancel it altogether, the organizers said at a news conference.
Bryce Zabel, chairman and chief executive officer of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, said, “We’re not at this point calling it a cancellation. We’re looking at all the options.”
Zabel added, “We’ve simply gone ahead and said for now we’re postponing.”
He said the loss will be “potentially in the millions of dollars.” But he added, “This isn’t about dollars. This is about doing the right thing.”
Earlier, a source close to the show said it had been canceled.
CBS EXECUTIVE EXPLAINS MOVE
Les Moonves, the head of CBS Television, said he had been in consultation with the heads of other networks and major figures in the industry for hours after the attack began to figure out what to do. The three-hour Emmy broadcast was to have aired on CBS from 8 to 11 p.m. EDT and would have drawn top stars to the Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles and a studio in Manhattan.
“There was a general feeling of people feeling uncomfortable. It was not a day to celebrate, certainly,” Moonves said. “It was the community really coming together and expressing the feeling that it would be the wrong thing to do this, to come together tonight.”
“They weren’t being jerks,” he added. “They weren’t being prima donnas. They didn’t feel appropriate about coming down here and participating. … I did not speak to one person today from the community who was passionate about going on.”
The show’s executive producer Don Mischer said its host, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, had been rehearsing when she learned of the decision and was quite disappointed. “She put a lot of effort and a lot of time and a lot of personal emotion into this,” Mischer said.
The program had already been canceled once before. Originally set to air on Sept. 16, it had been rescheduled for Sunday because of the devastating aerial assaults on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center Sept. 11, which killed nearly 5,600 people.
CBS spokeswoman Susan Marks had said earlier Sunday, “The event is canceled,” but had declined to give further details until the afternoon news conference.
The only other time the Emmys were affected by world events came in 1978, when the ceremony was delayed by about 30 minutes by the announcement of the 1978 Camp David Accords by then President Jimmy Carter, according to a spokesman for the organizers.
Because of national mourning, the Emmys presentation underwent a major transformation before the latest change of plan. Actors had been asked to dress somberly in business suits instead of tuxedos, and actresses were supposed to wear modest dresses instead of ball gowns or other revealing apparel.
In a normal week leading up to the Emmys, Hollywood is abuzz with gossip about which star is wearing what designer’s clothes or who will be dripping jewels. But this year, Emmy organizers had told reporters to expect a program that would match the mood of the country. Now even that program may not take place.