Making Emmy History: Nominated Choreographers Join Forces for Dance Number (Exclusive)

Alex Ben Block
Making Emmy History: Nominated Choreographers Join Forces for Dance Number (Exclusive)

For the first time in Emmy history, the nominated choreographers will join together to create and present a dance number during the show which will be built around host Neil Patrick Harris.

To cap it off, the Emmy for choreography will be presented on the Primetime Emmys show for the first time at the completion of this special dance production. In past years, the choreography Emmy has been presented during the Creative Arts Emmys the week before the primetime show.

"This came about because we wanted to look for another way to involve our host, our friend Mr. Harris," said Ken Ehrlich, who is executive producing the Primetime Emmys for the sixth time.

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Ehrlich, who has also produced the Grammys since 1980, called Harris "one of America's greatest new song and dance men in another musical."

"I was thinking about what we could do with him that would be different or unusual and exciting," adds Ehrlich. "The idea of having him interact with these choreographers and dancers in this number just became something that was so attractive we couldn’t pass it up."

To make room for the choreography award, the Emmy for reality competition host is being moved to the Creative Arts show. The winner in that category will be a presenter at the Primetime Emmys.

Ehrlich says the decision for the moves is only for this year's telecast. How the two categories are presented in future years may change again depending on the preference of the producer that year. The decision to make the change this year, says Ehrlich, was enthusiastically endorsed by the TV Academy and CBS , which will air the Sept. 22 telecast.

Harris, one of the stars of CBS' How I Met Your Mother, has won critical acclaim in recent years for hosting the Tony Awards. He previously hosted the Emmys in 2010.

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Ehrlich also found an innovative way to deliver the news about the plan to the nominated choreographers – Derek Hough (a double nominee for Dancing With the Stars) and four other nominees, all nominated for So You Think You Can Dance: Sonya Tayeh and Many Jo Moore, Napoleon Dumo and Travis Wall.

Ehrlich and the Academy invited the choreography nominees last week to a special reception in their honor. "Once they were there we sprung it on them," says Ehrlich. "Neil came and announced to them, 'Yes of course we want to celebrate their nominations but basically we wanted them to choreograph a number collectively that would be one on the show.'"

The events at the reception were taped and most of the other work on the number will also be taped for a kind of reality show documentary to be shown as part of the presentation on the Primetime Emmys. "It's obviously a very innovative thing to do," adds Ehrlich.

The choreographers are holding a meeting this week to start figuring out what they are going to do for the Emmys telecast. An option being bandied include the choreographers dancing themselves, and each has been invited to hire two of their favorite dancers for the number (likely from the shows they were nominated for). The likelihood of big-name performers taking part is highly unlikely but remains undecided.

However, Ehrlich says they have been given a budget which will limit how much they can spend on the dancers and production.

But don't expect the dance number to open up the Emmys, Ehrlich says. Instead, it will be slotted in somewhere in "the body of the show."

"It's definitely going to be an original number," says Ehrlich, "something that hasn't been done before. It's going to utilize the talents of all of them to put this number together as choreographers."