This morning the television industry awoke to the buzz about the latest news about the upcoming awards season. In just a few weeks, the 64th annual Primetime Emmys is set to take place live from Los Angeles and will be hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel. Naturally, there are some regular shows with nominations and some newcomer shows that will shake up the category. Perhaps what has shocked people (in a good way) was AMC’s “Mad Men” taking home 17 Emmy nominations, the most of any drama. Showtime’s “Homeland” claimed the title as the show with the most nominations of any new drama or comedy. According to Brian Stelter of the New York Times, this year’s Primetime Emmys is recognizing cable programming “to the exclusion of broadcast”–it’s noted that the four major networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX, have all been shut out of the outstanding drama series category for the first time ever.
But while the traditional network powerhouses are being shut out, more Internet series are being recognized and awarded nominations–not the 17 that “Mad Men” received–and one of them is very near and dear to the Bub.blicio.us team. “What’s Trending”, an original web series started and hosted by television personality, actress, and blogger Shira Lazar, along with her producer Damon Berger, has been nominated in the category of Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media-Original Interactive Television Programming-2012. Based on our research, it appears that this Emmy nod is the series’ first nomination and they’re up against two other competitors: USA Network and Fourth Wall Studios.
In case you’re not aware of what “What’s Trending” is all about, it’s a weekly web series that covers basically what it says it’s doing: whatever is trending online. It’s quite interactive and live and features a panel of influential individuals to discuss the latest news and stories affecting the world. Guests that have made appearances include Will.i.am, Mark Cuban, Lisa Kudrow, Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Drew Carey, iJustine, Greg Grunberg, and many others. The show is based out of their studios in Los Angeles, but every once in a while, Ms. Lazar and Mr. Berger will venture out into the world to do on-location shoots: they just wrapped up filming in San Diego for the 2012 edition of Comic-Con and earlier this year, they were at South by Southwest filming at the Samsung TechSet Blogger Lounge where they interviewed Smashing Pumpkin’s lead man, Billy Corgan, Academy award-winning actor Forrest Whittaker, Gary Vaynerchuk, Highlight’s Paul Davison, and many others.
The Emmy nomination is only the latest sign of “What’s Trending’s” latest success. After their unfortunate separation from the CBS network because of an inappropriate tweet someone made regarding the late Steve Jobs, some may have thought that the series would be doomed without any significant distribution. But both Ms. Lazar and Mr. Berger decided to keep the show going and it turned out to be the right decision for them. Three months after that ill-fated tweet hit the Internet and the partnership dissolved, “What’s Trending” came back with a vengence. The show at least doubled their traffic as soon as the break-up was announced. And as All Things D’s Peter Kafka noted in his article last year: getting any traction on the web can be difficult and there are many shows similar to “What’s Trending” and the nomination today shows that all the hard-work and hustle that both Ms. Lazar and Mr. Berger have put into the web series have definitely paid off.
Combined with collaboration deals with MTV, VYou, Virgin America, and others, “What’s Trending” has become quite successful and a force to be reckoned with. I’d say that amongst the other nominees in the category, “What’s Trending” has a pretty good chance of being the front-runner. But regardless of whether the series claims its first major mainstream award, what’s certain is that “What’s Trending” has proven to the world and the television industry that web series are a viable area to be explored and that original programming online can survive and prosper without major backing from a network.
It’s unfortunate that this category is not one of the major categories aired during the televised portion of the Primetime Emmy’s, but you can catch the excitement for all the other categories in drama, comedy, and everything else on September 23 on ABC, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.
Photo Credit: All photos shown here were taken by Kenneth Yeung.