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A truly global Emmy.

When the curtain goes up on the 26th International Emmy Award Gala at the New York Hilton Hotel on November 23, tile presenters will banter, the glittering grateful will give their thanks,and tile audience members will come away with a better appreciation of what exists out there in the world of television. But that audience filing out may not realize that this broader perspective is the result of a great deal of hard work on the part of the International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), which has been laboring constantly to make the International Emmys more inclusive and more recognized around the world... in short, more "international."

Georges Leclere, who became executive director of the International Council in January 1998, traveled to Germany this summer to raise awareness of the International Emmys among German producers. Such trips are part of the council's continuing efforts to increase recognition - and thus to pull in entries - in every corner of the world. And these efforts have paid off. World International Network (WIN) Chairman and CEO Larry Gershman, who is co-chairman of the International Emmy Awards Committee, noted that there were more than 400 entries this year, "more than we've ever had before." Gillian Rose, the other co-chairman, explained that this was "a big jump" from last year's roughly 350 entries. And it's not only the number of entries, but their origin, that is changing. Rose said that the International Council gets many more entries from Asia and Latin America than it used to. She can recall a time when there were only four or five submissions a year from Latin America, and most of those were from Globo TV. "In the early days, it was the main broadcasters who entered," Rose said, adding that now, alongside the entries from the BBCs, the RAIs and the Globos, there has been "a sort of mushrooming of the independents around the world."

Even the judging of the International Emmys has become broader. In 1993, the International Council implemented separate judging for programs from different regions. According to Rose, this decision stemmed from a feeling that non-English-language programs weren't being given enough of a chance. This year's preliminary round of judging was carried out in September at four sites: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Sydney hosted the judging of all English-language shows, Fuji Television Networks presided over the judging of Pacific Rim fare in Tokyo, Artear in Buenos Aires supervised judging of the Latin American programs and France Television oversaw the judging of non-English-language European submissions in Paris."It's sort of locals judging their own, as it were," put in Rose. On October 24 and 25, the 48 finalist programs headed on to final judging in New York and Los Angeles. The finalists in the Documentary, Arts Documentary, Performing Arts, Popular Arts and Programming for Young People categories were judged at the United Nations in New York, while the Drama category finalists were judged in L.A., under the supervision of Gershman's WIN. Gershman explained that this division came about through a desire to include the West Coast in the process. He added that it was natural for the Drama finals to be assigned to L.A., since L.A. is "the drama capital of the world."

While the winning programs will of course be announced only on the big night, there are two winners whose names we can reveal. Robert Halmi Sr., chairman of the board at Hallmark Entertainment, will take home the Founders Award for his work as a producer of mini-series like The Odyssey and Merlin. And Sam Nilsson, director general of Swedish Television, will receive the Directorate Award in recognition of the public broadcaster's award-winning dramas and its steps toward digital.

Welcoming the audience on November 23 will be the president of the International Council, USA Networks Founder Kay Koplovitz, and the Dinner Gala Chairman, Universal's Blair Westlake. The host of the International Emmys will be Dutch comic talent Hans Liberg. While the event will no doubt have its moments of hilarity, there will also be a serious side: the evening will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. This focus will include screenings of human-rights-related public service announcements from across the globe, as well as a United Nations presentation. The gala will also include the International Council and UNICEF's presentation of the International Day of Children's Programming.

There are some new developments in the International Emmys' future. Gershman revealed that the International Council is considering expanding the awards, adding one or two new categories. The council will meet with its American parent organization, NATAS, to discuss the potential additions sometime this month. One of the new categories might be animation, a section of the industry that the International Council has been eyeing thoughtfully for quite a while.
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Title Annotation:1998 International Emmy Awards
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Nov 1, 1998
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