Last week, MTV announced that the annual Movie Awards would transform into the Movie & TV Awards, before revealing the ceremonies new categories, rules, and nominees. The scheduled May 7 telecast will be the first ceremony to include television and streaming content in its awarding process, after 25 years of solely honoring film.
Executive producer Casey Patterson -- who will be acting in the role for a second straight year -- discussed with Billboard why the MTV Movie & TV Awards decided to become more socially conscious than ever before, the importance of television being included in nominations, and how the broadcast will instantly become the "Millennial Golden Globes."
How did the MTV Movie Awards become the MTV Movie & TV Awards?
Last year was the 25th anniversary of the franchise, and we sort of blew it out big by celebrating the history of the franchise. We talked a lot last year about what the next 25 should look like -- just given viewing habits and the introduction of streaming. As we look at the [awards show's] demographic and who of the future is consuming this kind of content, we realized last year, or the year before, that this was the way that this is going. Eventually -- because of the way that consumption is happening for our audience -- teens and young adults really don't make those distinctions between big beautiful stories and storytelling that happens in theater versus what happens on their television screens or phones. They'll follow great content, and they want great content where they want it, and when they want it, in an on-demand world. We just knew. We're organically following the viewing habits and the future of how our demographic, how our audience and our fans consume the content.
For some of the categories, you have TV performers up against film performers. Why did you decide to make that decision?
Same reason. I think the audience looks at performances as performances. They're not making the same distinctions between a TV performance and a film performance. Those walls are coming down. There are theatricals being released on television all the time. There is big, cinematic, dramatic, great storytelling happening on TV and streaming now in a way that's hard to keep up with. It doesn't make as much sense for us to draw those lines anymore. Great performances of the year are great performances of the year regardless of the size of the screen they're released on.
Which categories are you excited for the most?
I'm excited for the acting categories, because we've removed the gender boundaries. We're the first show to do that. We've been dancing with the idea for a couple of years. It just feels like a really modern, forward-thinking, honest expression of our audience. I think if someone were to say to me "You're a great producer for a girl -- as far as women go -- the shows you produce are really good," I wouldn't necessarily feel honored by that. I think for actors, directors and writers, it's about the content, it isn't about gender. So I'm particularly excited about that aspect of the show.
You previously mentioned breaking down the gender barrier a couple of years ago. Why did you decide to finally do it at this telecast instead of before?
We started talking about it last year, and I think the decision was we wanted to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the franchise as it had been for 25 years. We celebrated in a big way: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Kevin Hart hosted together. As we looked ahead, we thought from there we would rebuild the next 25. "How does this franchise stay relevant for the next 25 years?" It felt like a really nice way to say goodbye to that format.
Could you explain in further details the Best American Story and Best Fight Against the System categories?
I love those categories. American Story has to do with what a new family unit looks like and what friendship looks like now. We're so fortunate that we're seeing all kinds of families reflected now on television and all kinds of relationships reflected on television. Every show is now a more honest reflection -- it's diversified. You may have single-parent families, you may have two-parent families, or you may not. It's all a reflection of what America really looks like. This is our celebration of the fact that television is diversifying in that way, and we think that's nothing but a good thing for everyone to see themselves on TV, versus what was traditionally considered to be the perfect American story or a more traditional American story.
As for Best Fight Against the System: If you think about MTV's history and legacy, and you think about the most defining characteristics of the brand, social awareness and social consciousness has always been at the forefront. You can go all the way back to "Rock the Vote" or "Choose or Lose" -- there's always been that social awareness and consciousness. It's always been a big part of the brand's identity and DNA. We've had a long couple of years with elections, and what's come out of that [is] you're seeing how unbelievably engaged our demographic is. Teenagers and young adults are really socially engaged and politically active, loud and organizing themselves in new ways. MTV has always been there, so I'm happy that it's reflected so well in a specific category.
Did politics influence your decision to be more socially aware this telecast?
MTV has always been there. It's always been really vibrant, politically active and socially active. Activism has always been a big part of the brand. I can't say it was because of politics this year, it's just a huge part of the legacy of the brand itself. But I will say, when you're doing a show that's "of the year," you are very aware of what the year looked like. It would be tone-deaf for us not to highlight and acknowledge in the format what this past year looked like. This past year saw that young people were more vocal, active and impactful than ever.
What do you think about the diversity of this year's nominees?
When #OscarsSoWhite was happening, we were producing this show last year in that same window. We were seeing that happen and we were very thankful that this show -- because it's for younger people -- is an honest reflection of what our audiences are watching. That's never been an issue for this particular show. This show has always been diverse in every way. Creatively, we're for the masses. We're honoring big franchises, comedy, horror, action and adventure. We've always been really diversified, organically, as a reflection of the audience.
What's the reaction been like since you announced the name change and some changes to each category?
Really great! It's been really good. I think the feeling is everyone knows that this is the way that the world is moving and that people view content in a different way than they have historically. We're following the technological trends that you're getting movies day and day on your TV. It's just the way the world has gone, so the show feels very relevant to people because we're moving with it versus staying stuck in the past. We're moving right along with technological trends and the audience trends and how they consume. We live in an on-demand world.
There's a very emotional experience and connection with content now because you can have whatever you want whenever you want it. To me, personally what it's become now is, when you go home at night or whenever you watch your content, you're deciding how you want to feel. Do you want big drama? Do you want to solve crime? Do you want to laugh and see comedies? Do you want to get lost in true stories and documentaries? Do you want to disappear for a weekend and binge? It's a much more personal experience than its ever been in the past because you're going home to chose your own adventure every day and every night. It's a great time to be a lover of content of every length, shape and size.
Are there any big names that you're excited to see?
Ooh, yes I'm excited about all of them! We're having so much fun with [the show's host] Adam DeVine, who's writing a lot of the show himself. He's been such a great partner, and he's been in the offices for a few weeks, coming up with big stuff. He's so funny, and he loves this show, so we're having a blast with Adam. I'm excited for the audience to see some of the things he's putting together. It's such an interesting year adding television into the show. It feels like a Millennial Golden Globes now. We're getting everyone under one roof, which is really exciting considering how much of a party the Movie & TV Awards is. It's loose and fun and wild. The idea that we're going to have TV and all those amazing stars in the room as well, it's an exciting year all around.