Wednesday, March 11, 2020


So, I've spent a lot of time bashing the Oscars over the years, and I don't really get to bash the Emmys as often as I'd like, and it's not like the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences doesn't have reasons to bash them all the time. I try to shove those complaints into the annual pieces I do on the Primetime Emmys every year, and usually that's enough to hold me over most of the time. That said, in the middle of the Oscar season crunch this year, something did catch my eye when last December the ATAS announced the latest inductees into the Television Academy Hall of Fame!

Now, I don't know about you, but when I heard that the likes of Seth MacFarlane, Cicely Tyson, Bob Iger, Jay Sandrich and Geraldine Laybourne were announced as the latest inductees, I had one prevailaing thought that I could've get out of my head... Wait, there's a Television Hall of Fame?!

Seriously, how many remembered or knew this existed? Like, I actually did recall that the Emmys had this, but I thought they stopped with it years ago honestly. And no wonder I thought that, it was the first time they inducted somebody in 3 YEARS!!!!!!

Yet, there it is; it's on the Emmys website.

They have a Hall of Fame.


Did they just forget it was there for three years? I mean, I did! So, I can't totally blame them, can I?Still though, it's not like they ever forget to hold the Emmys one year or, hell, even compared to other Hall of Fames, most of them are in sports, but you know, the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, that's a pretty big entertainment Hall of Fame, and they never miss a year and every year it's a big event to hear about who gets in every year. I never forget they exist. And doesn't this sound like, I don't know, the kind of thing that we should know more about, especially these days with television changing more dramatically then ever! Wouldn't you want to promote this?

Also, just from a historical standpoint? The point of Hall of Fames isn't for any real statistical achievement or something, it's for preservation. It's a way to document that these, eh, people, mostly, or things or whatever, are a huge aspect in the historical context of, in this case, an artistic medium.

I guess we kinda forget about it also 'cause with award shows, we usually think of Lifetime Achievement as being the sort pseudo-Hall of Fame, but honestly, most of the time, we kinda regard those awards as sorta, consulation prizes, usually for overlooking certain artistic greats for many years. Not always, but that's kinda how it plays out. So, I guess a Hall of Fame, is kinda something I'd be in favor of especially for television where, there's so much of it now, that, there's a lot of it that just is overlooked and underknown right now, in the general populace. And, I'm not even talking about the fact that there's too many TV shows and streaming networks to keep up with everything; there's a lot of great past TV names and legends that frankly more people should know about and be aware of.

To me, I always thought that was sort, what you did naturally. Especially if you didn't live through it, you would go back and watch every classic rerun you could so that you can more understand and appreciate the great shows of today. (And also the crap of today as well. There's a lot of both, let's not beat around the bush in that regard either.) However, it's just not-as-easy or common to do today so, yeah, preservation of the names is a good idea.

Yet, this Hall of Fame, is just weird. The fact that it barely is known is Problem A. Problem B, it's a Hall of Fame ceremony for television, that isn't televised as far as I can tell, not recently anyway. ? That's weird. BTW, who selects this Hall of Fame? Like, I can easily find Emmy voters to talk to if I needed to, who votes for the Hall of Fame?

Okay, well, for this latest batch of inductees, the Hall of Fame Selection Committee was chaired by Rick Rosen. Okay that's a really industry-insider name; he's the head of TV at WME. He's- he's a talent agent. He's one of the biggest agents in Hollywood. WME is the current name of William-Morris; his boss is Ari Emanuel, the guy that literally, Jeremy Piven's character on "Entourage" was based on. A bit of an odd choice, but not out there too much. Who else? On the committee is Marcy Carsey, well I know that name; I grew up seeing that name on all my favorite TV shows. She's a legendary TV producer, who I presume got inducted into the Hall of Fame decades ago. (I presumed right, inducted in '96) Peter Roth, okay he's a famous TV executive, worked with everybody from Steven J. Cannell to Chuck Lorre, used to be a VP at ABC... and Nina Tassler, she was a big deal at CBS for decades at several positions and subsidiaries for a few decades until she got out of that.

So-eh, a producer, an agent, and a couple network executives? It's not that I think any of these people aren't qualified to determine this, but is that it? Four people?

Like, I'm not saying everybody in the Academy should be a voter or something but, that seems a little low to me.

So, how did they decide these five people this year? Were there other they were considering and these were the best? Was there a selection process that preceded this? I mean, is there a questionable name here?

Umm..., well I guess that's for you to decide, as for me, I think Bob Iger is a bit questionable, but I get it. I mean, he's kinda in the news right now for being kicked out of Disney, but he does have a lot to do with the increase pull of that company, as well as having a lot to do with television's early transitioning to streaming services, including Hulu and Disney+, so, yeah, that makes sense. Especially from a group of mostly executives, but I'm less angry at that, 'cause TV executives do historically have a lot of creative achievements as oppose to movie executives.

That said, Cicely Tyson, kinda throws me though. I mean, she's a great legendary actress, and she's done a lot of television over her career. Um..., has she, has she ever been, like a star of a series at least?

Like, when you think Cicely Tyson and you think television, what comes to mind? Like, I can think of a few episodes of random series here and there, but mostly as an occasional guest star. I guess "East Side/West Side" is kind of a notable important pioneering cult series that she starred on, as the third lead. For the show's one season?

Okay, I know there's a large underrepresentation of African-Americans on television's early years, but-eh, I kinda feel like this was a weird choice that doesn't make a whole lotta sense. (And no, I thought about it, it wasn't an agent thing; she's with CAA, so I can't blame that.)

Well, that's the thing too, what are the rules of the Television Hall of Fame?

No, seriously, what are the rules? The standards? Like, what makes somebody eligible or not eligible? Like, there's none listed anywhere on the Emmys website! What qualifies somebody for this?

This is the thing that's really weird about the Television Hall of Fame; every other Hall of Fame I can name, whether it's a well-known one or even the most obscure ones you can think of, there's a decent set of rules about who/what qualifies for the Hall of Fame. And sure, every Hall of Fame has a couple weird quirks and outliers; for instance, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has Carole King inducted as a songwriter, along with her ex-husband Gerry Coffin, but not as a solo performer, even though, "Tapestry" came out in 1971, and she's one of the great singer/songwriters in the age of singer/songwriters and has 25 albums of her own music spanning four decades...!!! Anyway, and most of Hall of Fames have one or two oddities like that, sure.

The Television Hall of Fame has many more peculiar ones then others however. The honors were first noted in 1984, the brainchild of then Academy President John H. Mitchell, "To honor the extraordinary individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to U.S. television". And, for the first few years, they did that; they honored the biggest individual. However, in 1988, after Mitchell's passing it started getting a little more erratic.

For instance, in 1991, they inducted, not an individual, but a TV show, "I Love Lucy". Which, sure, if we're inducting TV shows, then yeah, "I Love Lucy" being the first one, that's good, I can live with that.

What other shows have they inducted? They haven't. Not a single one.

70 years of television, only "I Love Lucy" is worth being in the Television Hall of Fame"?

I mean, they're already breaking the rule of "Individuals", but I mean, if you're gonna induct TV shows, I mean, why only one? Or why did they decide to randomly pick this one, at this time to begin with? Did they plan to others in but forgot?

Or why did they decide to not induct any Hall of Famers in 1994, the first time the Academy decided to skip a year. Or why did they do it in 1998? In 2000? 2001? 2003? 2005? 2007? 2009? So, we're only doing this every other year now? Nope, 2011, they did induct people. They didn't in 2015 though.

They didn't in 2016, either,... well, actually they kinda did. The actually did give out Hall of Fame honors in 2016, but not to individuals. Or to TV shows. They gave out something called "Cornerstone Awards" that were given to, (Sigh) the four major networks. Yep, NBC, ABC, CBS and to FOX. So, now, I guess networks are eligible?

Sure, why not? Honestly though, I think they were just, honoring the major basic networks, you know, since, they're probably dying and very soon at that. Network television is dying and that's a whole other thing..., and sure I don't think that's a problem, in of itself actually. I think it's a good idea, but-eh, it does seem strange that suddenly after not inducted anyone/anything into the Hall of Fame for two years, the major networks get a special award.

They remember the next year in 2017, and then forgot about this again until this year, 2020's latest batch.

Look, I'm just looking for a little consistency here. I don't care, in the abstract, about who gets inducted or doesn't, (Although yeah, I'll make some suggestions at the end of this blog) and that's because, the Television Academy, well, they haven't made me care. Because it doesn't seem like they care about this thing. If this was somebody else I would probably not even bother with an article, but this is the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences? They're the people who make television, why are they so cavalier about their Hall of Fame?

It's just so bizarre. I mean, I expect the general public at large to not care about shit like this, but not you know, the people who run the thing, I expect them to take this seriously, and, at least in the last twenty years or so, it's like they just haven't. It's like they barely remember it exists.

And I wasn't going to note too many people who are in or out as being knocks against the Hall of Fame, but how did they not get around to inducting Philo T. Farnsworth until 2012?! Seriously 2012, he finally got inducted. I mean, I kinda get it; it's not like he's that important to television, he only, INVENTED IT!!!!!  That's like an electricity Hall of Fame taking two decades to remember to put Thomas Edison in there?

So, what to do about this? Well, I can't do shit, I mean, I'm gonna send this article to them and I think if enough people start questioning the legitimacy of this Hall of Fame, they'll begin to start making it, well, legitimate. but ultimately it's up to the Television Academy to come up with something.

If I were to recommend stuff though, I'd probably start with, well, figuring out a permanent voting panel. One that's not just five people. Perhaps any currently living inductees. Some other renowned people in the industry, perhaps some television critics, writers, historians. Just a sense that there's more then a few random industry people making these decisions.

Second, I would set up a clear and obvious set of guidelines and eligibility rules. Who's eligible, who's not, etc. What's eligible, what's not? It does have to be to exclusive or strict, but you know, a minimum of rules, and stick to them! Make a clear, concise decision about anything that's an abstraction. Are TV shows eligible? If so, then you gotta induct more. Are networks eligible? Well, eh, I guess PBS should've gotten that Cornerstone Award too, but eh..., yeah, I wouldn't say induct every network either. Not right now anyway....

Now, as to what those rules eventually end up..., I'm not gonna tell the Academy what to do, but if I had any influence, I would recommend just scratching "I Love Lucy" from the Hall of Fame and stick to people, not series.

I have a few reasons for this recommendation, one being that I think there should be a National Television Registry run by Library of Congress, the same way there's a National Film Registry, but also 'cause I think you will start getting this overloaded if you just start inducting shows after shows after shows... and I think that's a National Television Registry would be a better forum for that then this.

Besides, every name you can think of that's basically associated with "I Love Lucy", they're already inducted. Lucille Ball was inducted in the original class, Desi Arnaz got inducted in 1990, even Vivian Vance & William Frawley were inducted in 2012. Boy, whoever does vote for this, they really do have a hard-on for "I Love Lucy". Hey, if you still want to induct more people from the show, how about William Asher, who directed over 100 episodes of the series before becoming an NBC executiove, or Jess Oppenheimer who was the head writer for the entire series, and whose works in television pre-dates "I Love Lucy" and lasted well into the '60s, and he was an inventor, who among other patents, invented the teleprompter lens. Or Karl Freund, whose cinematography instrumental for mastering the multi-camera technique that is the standard for sitcoms? (Okay, so not everybody, but still, if you're so in love with the show, there's people who needed to be inducted from it before the Mertzs. BTW Vivian Vance and William Frawley absolutely hated each other; they wouldn't have liked being paired together in this.)

BTW, it's not like you can't take someone/something out of the Hall of Fame, you remember this existed long enough to take Bill Cosby's name out. Yeah, he was inducted in 1991, but they revoked his induction after he was convicted of rape. I'll let you guys decide on the merits of that decision, but that's my argument for stripping "I Love Lucy", and just leave it to people. If you want to keep the ability to add series, I understand that too, just add more of them. There's literally no possibly scenario where only one series can be justified being in and no others....

In the meantime, Television Academy, in regards to your Hall of Fame, just get your damn shit together. Make it matter so that somebody might actually know to visit your Garden.

No, seriously,  they have a garden. It's at the Saban Media Center in North Hollywood, the Academy has kept and preserved a garden for the Television Hall of Fame members. There's plaques of many of the members and even some life-sized statues. It's actually looks like quite a nice display to have outside the East Wall of the Television Academy. It's nice and touching.

It's such a nice garden, and a good way to honor the greats of the medium. So, let's actually honor the medium and treat the Hall of Fame with respect. Have a regular induction ceremonies, if not every year, then on a regular, consistent basis, have a much more organized and collective selection committee, one that's not just a literal handful of people, but does include people from several different aspects of television, including historians, and set up, just, even the most minor standards of who qualifies and who doesn't, and stick to it.

Make it an event! Make it important! Make it feel like it's a true honor, promote it! I've looked up some clips of people getting inducted from the past and the present, this used to be a big televised event, and while I appreciate the intimate nature of the modern ceremonies, you can make a bigger deal out of it. Perhaps have all the surviving inductees present awards at the Emmys, with a tribute or something. Make it a regular thing and people will think about it and be conscious of it as a regular thing. You already came up with it to begin, you might as well own it!

(Solemn sigh)

Alright, now that that's over, let's have some fun here. If you go through the names of people who have inducted already, there's a lot of great history there, and much of is incredible, but there's still a lot of names out there who haven't been inducted. I'm gonna throw out a some names to end this article, but who do you think should be inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame? I'm gonna send this to the Television Academy's twitter account, and I suggest that if you think there's any names that should be there, you should probably tweet them to the Academy as well. Hey, if the more people go and tell them to put them in the Television Hall of Fame, maybe they'll start caring about it more and we'll start caring more about it? (Shrugs)

Who knows? Anyway, here's some names I'd recommend, in alphabetical order, let me know who else you think belongs there:

Tim Allen
Robert Altman
Alan Ball
Chuck Barris
Jack Barry & Dan Enright
Bob Bell
Bea Benaderet
Gertrude Berg
Chris Berman
Barbara Billingsley
Ernest Borgnine
Bernie Brillstein
Mel Brooks
Mary-Ellis Bunham & Jonathan Murray
Mark Burnett
LeVar Burton
Louis C.K.
George Carlin
Johnny Cash
Dick Cavett
Glen & Les Charles
David Chase
John Cleese
Joe Connelly & Bob Mosher
Jackie Cooper
Bob Costas
Billy Crystal
Bill Cullen
Greg Daniels
Ted Danson
Larry David
Ossie Davis
Charles Dolan
Hugh Downs
Allen B. DuMont
Dick Ebersol
Ralphe Edwards
Diane English
Tina Fey
Sally Field
Michael J. Fox
David Frost
Glen Glenn
Gary David Goldberg
Kelsey Grammer
Kathy Griffin
Matt Groening
Fred Gwynne
Larry Hagman
Arsenio Hall
Monty Hall
Tom Hanks
Hugh Hefner
Paul William Henning
Buck Henry
Nat Hiken
Judd Hirsch
Hal Holbrook
Louis J. Horvitz
Phil Hughes
Mike Judge
Don Roy King
Michael Patrick King
Roger M. King
Arlene Klasky & Gabor Csupo
Don Knotts
Maurice LaMarche
David Letterman
Ken Levine & David Isaacs
Steven Levitan
Shari Lewis
Warren Littlefield
Christopher Lloyd (Producer)
Kurt Loder
Junie Lowry-Johnson
Susan Lucci
Gail Mancuso
John Madden
Bill Maher
Howie Mandel
Dean Martn
Steve Martin
Groucho Marx
Beth McCartney-Miller
Ed McMahon
Vince McMahon
Don Meier
Bill Melendez
Edward K. Milkis
Thomas L. Miller & Robert Boyett
John H. Mitchell
Elizabeth Montgomery
Garry Moore
Rita Moreno
Michael G. Moye & Ron Leavitt
Ruchard Mulligan
Lorenzo Music
Arthur C. Neilsen
Ozzie Nelson
Conan O'Brien
Jerry Paris
Trey Parker & Matt Stone
Robert W. Pittman
Mike Post
Sheila Nevins
Phylicia Rashad
Bill Rassmussen
Burt Reynolds
John Ritter
Geraldo Rivera
Robin Roberts
Pat Robertson
Andy Rooney
Tim Russert
Ed Sabol
Ted Sarandos
George Schlatter
Ryan Seacrest
Joseph Segal
Jerry Seinfeld
Paul Shaffer
Tony Shalhoub
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
Amy Sherman-Palladino
Aaron Sorkin
Carroll Spinney
Jerry Springer
Robert Stack
Howard Stern
Jon Stewart
Suzanne Summers
John Tesh
Marlo Thomas
Lily Tomlin
Alex Trebek
Bonnie & Terry Turner
Michael Warren
Keenan Ivory Wayans
Adam West
Joss Whedon
Robin Williams
Flip Wilson
Paul Junger Witt
Ed Wynn
Jeff Zucker
Anthony E. Zuiker

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