Why one winning producer swore off the Emmys

Jeff Hoover (2006)

Jeff Hoover (2006)

Local Emmy Awards have always been an exercise in self-congratulations, to be sure, but somewhere along the way they lost their luster — and their relevance.

Today they’re little more than a moneymaking enterprise for the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which rakes in thousands in membership fees, entry fees, dinner ticket fees, program book fees and additional statuette fees under the dubious claim of recognizing “excellence in our industry.”

It’s nice to win one, I suppose, but don’t forget that Larry Mendte won 27 during just four years in Chicago. (Altogether he claims to have 90 regional Emmys.)

Emmy inflation has bloated the number of categories to 80 (up from last year’s 72), including such specialized areas as “Outstanding Achievement for Interstitials” and “Outstanding Achievement for Interactivity.” And now the academy chapter defines the region as everything from Peoria-Bloomington and Rockford, Illinois, and South Bend-Elkhart, Indiana, to Green Bay-Appleton, Milwaukee, Wausau-Rhinelander, and Madison, Wisconsin.

Tamron Hall

Tamron Hall

This year’s Emmy Awards, to be hosted by “Today” host and MSNBC news anchor Tamron Hall, “Good Morning America” meteorologist Ginger Zee and actor Larenz Tate, will be awarded November 1 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 North Columbus Drive. For the first time in 25 years, the two-hour event will be broadcast live, airing on City Colleges of Chicago’s public television WYCC-Channel 20.

One person who won’t be there is Jeff Hoover, the veteran WGN Morning News producer and one of the brightest talents — on and off camera — in local broadcasting. “I have to believe that there is no category for me anymore,” Hoover wrote in a piece lamenting what the Emmys have become.

On his Facebook page Wednesday, Hoover posted the following declaration:

No Trophy For You

The last time I won an Emmy was in 2006 for Individual Achievement on Camera: Performer.

When the nominations were announced that year, I learned that I was the only nominee in the category.

How exciting!

That excitement quickly evaporated after someone from the Emmy committee pulled me aside to tell me it doesn't mean I will win.


How could I be the only nominee and not win?

"And the nominees are, wait a second here.  Oh, and the nominee is Jeff Hoover.  And the winner goes to...there is no winner."

That would have been a waste of a tuxedo rental on a Sunday night in November.

Luckily, that didn't happen.

I won.

I leaped from my chair and ran up onto the stage and dry humped Rich Koz while almost getting punched by Janet Davies.

(I have the video somewhere. And Rich told me that I somehow knocked his contact lens up into his eyeball. Sorry, Sven.)

Ever since that night, I have entered that very same category.

And lost.

In bizzaro ways.

I've lost to a group of performers.

What?!  I thought it was INDIVIDUAL achievement

The committee tried to explain that one to me. 

They said it was a group performing as one or something sketchy like that.

And I've lost to the deaf reporter from ABC 7.

How did we get into the same clown car category?

She does great reports about some wonderful people--and I tell jokes in a robot costume.

One year I even lost to a gospel preacher that hosts a show called "SINGSATION."

Again, how do I compete against Jesus?

To add insult to injury, his entry was submitted by a director that works HERE at WGN Morning News.

As a result of these odd experiences, I swore I wouldn't submit an entry again.

For a couple of years, I was able to just say NO.

But I got sucked back in last year and submitted a composite of some of what I felt was my best performances.

Guess what?

I didn't get nominated.

Guess who did?

ABC 7's Hosea Sanders.

Mic drop.

I thought I would have stopped this game years ago when the year the 2-hour special "Bozo, Gar & Ray" I helped produce lost to a Wisconsin's TV station's story on BBQ.

I'm done. 

No more.

That's it.

I have my Emmy.

I might only have one, but I earned it before the committee started allowing groups to win Individual Achievement Awards.

And before they added Correspondent and Narrator to the Performance category.

I have to believe that there is no category for me anymore.

And that's fine by me.

I'll save $200 on the entry fee.

(Yes, you have to pay to play.  And it really smarts when the Emmy committee get your money and you don't even get nominated.)

One more thing about the Emmys and news.

It's pretty dumb to win an award for best news coverage for a house fire that kills a family or something tragic like that.

Seeing news teams in formal wear patting each other on the back for their stellar coverage of a families nightmare is just plain wrong to me.

"We'd like to thank that family of 4 for burning to death. We couldn't have done this without you."

It's time to look at the bigger picture.

As long as I am having fun and making people laugh and smile, that'll always be better than another Emmy to me.

Thanks for your love and support.

Most importantly, thank you for watching.

Your loyal viewership and friendship means everything.