A few ideas for the NZ TV Awards

Last updated 09:54 07/11/2012

The NZ Television Awards for 2012 were held on Saturday night. Organised by ThinkTV, a "joint initiative of TVNZ and MediaWorks TV" (according to their Twitter bio), the awards honour the top performers in everything from local drama (Go Girls) to comedy (Hounds) to factual shows (Te Radar was prominently involved) to news (a swag of different awards; I thought Native Affairs' Julian Wilcox was the most deserving winner on the night).

But you could be forgiven if you completely missed them. In fact, it's likely you did completely miss them. There was little fanfare ahead of the event, and almost no coverage between the nominee announcements on September 26 and the actual ceremony on November 3 - in fact, I can't remember seeing any until Saturday evening when a crop of photos from the red carpet showed up on the Stuff front page.

You'd also be forgiven for missing the broadcast, which ran at 10.30pm on Sunday. It wasn't a very flashy affair, but a few sketches from Millen Baird and the team behind Auckland Daze brought a bit of hilarity to proceedings. If you want to go back and have a look at the awards, you can do that here. It's only a highlight package, mind you.

Even I missed the broadcast of the show, eventually catching up online yesterday - and while I thought some of the sketches were great, I feel that most of the show constitutes a huge missed opportunity.

For a start, I think the categories need to be re-aligned. There are too many factual and news categories. I think the show should be shortened to a handful of factual/reality awards, while spinning news and a few other awards off into its own ceremony, just as the Emmy awards have a separate "technical" ceremony; valuable as the crew is, that's the real home for awards like Best News Camera, Investigation of the Year and Best Makeup Design.

I'd also split up the fiction series and one-offs. There already are separate awards for Best Drama Series and Best One-Off Drama, but the two are combined in the acting categories, meaning that performers who shine in a made-for-TV movie (like Mark Mitchinson in Siege) can dominate the acting awards; there should be Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress awards for both series and one-offs, especially with the swag of new shows coming to TV3 next year.*

Plus, all the nominees should be based on a single episode, not an entire series. Put Will Hall's best episode of Nothing Trivial up against Shane Cortese's best episode of The Almighty Johnsons in a Best Supporting Actor - Series category**, and let Mick Rose (Tangiwai), Peter Elliott (Bliss) and Mike Minogue (Rage) fight it out in Best Supporting Actor - Made-For-TV Film. This makes room for more recognisable nominees (no offence, Mick, Peter and Mike), meaning more people are familiar with the faces in the televised ceremony, and more people are likely to tune in.

There also needs to be some kind of hype before the ceremony. This is a great opportunity to get more people interested in, and hopefully tuning in, to local television. Pick a network, set aside a Saturday night to show the ceremony, and promote the hell out of it with commercials, press releases, the works.

Oh, and make sure it's a decent ceremony when it goes to air. Aside from the sketches, this year's ceremony was packed with awkward host pairings (Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts already know each other, so let them host together - not Hilary and the guy who plays Luke on Shortland Street) and hollow-sounding acceptance speeches covered in squealing microphone feedback (when they aren't drowning in too-loud pop music).

But most of all, I think the awards organisers and producers should back themselves. I truly believe we have a great television industry in this country; we should be doing everything we can to celebrate the writers, producers, stars and crew that put everything together. A fantastic awards ceremony is a great place to start.

Did you watch the NZTVAs? Or see any of the coverage? What did you think: is there room for improvement? Is there enough interest in local television to make these changes worthwhile?

(*) Look out for my thoughts on TV3/Four's upcoming slate of shows this Friday.

(**) Will Hall and Shane Cortese are two of the best local actors on television, turning in fantastic work in relatively small roles on Nothing Trivial and The Almighty Johnsons, respectively. That neither was nominated was, in my opinion, a complete travesty.

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