Lacking the glamour of the Oscars, the drunken party vibe of the Golden Globes, and the sensational spectacle of the Grammys, the Emmys are generally the snooziest of the major awards shows. They’re so snoozy, in fact, that the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences—FWIW, the “Sciences” part of that title always makes us laugh—are planning to air FIVE different tributes to individuals who have died in the past year in an attempt to keep viewers from switching over to Breaking Bad. While we’re sure those moments will be moving, there is ONE segment of the broadcast that has the nation riveted. No, it’s not who’s going to win Best Drama or Best Comedy, but rather which late star will anchor the famed In Memoriam death montage?
We can only imagine the heated conversations that go on behind closed doors at the Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences (heh heh, “sciences”) while they’re editing this politically loaded segment. Putting ourselves in their shoes, we figure that you need to lead the montage off with a notable death, but not TOO notable; producers want audience members to start clapping right away, but you don’t want every other death that follows to be an emotional letdown. Like a great mixtape, a well-executed death montage has to ebb and flow just so; culturally significant losses must be properly offset with notable industry deaths (guild presidents, producers, network suits), names of whom the viewing public at home will not recognize, so that applause stays steady and doesn’t come to a crashing halt before ending. So, it goes without saying that video has to play well in the room AND also to the millions watching in their living rooms, which is exactly why the ANCHOR position is so important.
The anchor, as you well know, is the very last person in the death montage. They are the last face that the audience sees and, consequently, the person with whom the audience will remember the most as representing the year that was. With that said, the anchor better DAMN well be someone who is important not just to the industry, but to the culture-at-large. So, producers find themselves asking themselves whose sepia-toned headshot BEST embodies the communal spirit of television? Which person can best warm the nation’s cathode tubes and liquid crystal displays in such a way that make tearing up inevitable? Which dead celebrity will keep the audience from flipping over to NBC to watch Sunday Night Football?
We here at VH1 have put our collective noggins together in an attempt to answer this question. We have handicapped this make-or-break moment in the lives of some poor schlub who has been feverishly taxing the limits of Final Cut Pro without the benefit of sleep in an attempt to achieve editorial transcendence. Be sure to watch the Emmys tonight to see how we did.