LOS ANGELES (AP) — Judging by the cluster of Emmys in his office, CBS executive Jack Sussman knows something about making successful television, and he’s betting on a new awards-show broadcast.
The Hollywood Film Awards, which has been held off-camera since 1997, will make its TV debut Friday as a two-hour special on CBS.
But does television really need another Hollywood award show? “I don’t know,” says Sussman, “but it can use a show that has credibility and kicks off the awards season.”
Hollywood’s awards season is almost year-round, but it shifts into high gear in the first months of the new year, when the Golden Globes, Grammys, Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Oscars are traditionally held.
The Hollywood Film Awards recognizes outstanding film work from the full calendar year, even though not all the contenders will have hit theaters before the ceremony at the Hollywood Palladium.
“There’s nothing in… the middle of November that gets the ball rolling” for awards season, Sussman said, characterizing the fall ceremony as a “television tutorial of what the movie season is and what you have to look forward to.”
Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Reese Witherspoon, Eddie Redmayne, Jared Leto, Kristen Stewart, Channing Tatum, Michael Keaton and Robert Downey Jr. are among the stars set to appear on the Hollywood Film Awards, which will be hosted by Queen Latifah. Janelle Monae is set to perform with her band during the show, produced by dick clark productions, which also handles the Golden Globes.
Latifah said she expects the evening to be “a cool and relaxed celebration” of the year’s films.
Producer R.A. Clark said his challenge is condensing what used to be a four-hour, camera-free dinner into a tight, two-hour, TV-ready program. Prizes will be presented in 18 categories, including breakthrough director, acting ensemble, blockbuster of the year and comedy of the year.
The show announced its first winners last week in categories such as cinematography (“Birdman”) and production design (“Maleficent”). Clark said the year’s films help determine awards categories.
There are no nominees. Winners are chosen by a top-secret committee of 12 industry insiders, headed by show founder Carlos de Abreu. Though members change each year, the voting body has a good track record, Sussman said, adding that “well over 90 percent” of Hollywood Film Awards recipients have gone on to earn Oscar nods.
CBS is dedicating its prime-time programming that night to the inaugural telecast. The Hollywood Film Awards will be preceded by a 30-minute red carpet show and followed by an hour-long recap.
Sussman hopes the November show becomes an annual event.
“You have to go into these kinds of shows thinking that you’re in it for the long haul,” he said. “So you hope to launch it in a way that you stay in business with it.”
Viewers will decide Friday when the show airs on CBS at 8pm ET (delayed PT).
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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