Williamsville’s Charlie Haykel expects to be really tense Sunday as he prepares to produce his fifth Emmy program with his business partners.
The tension during the 1:15 p.m. dress rehearsal Sunday in Los Angeles won’t be about the live program hosted by Andy Samberg (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Saturday Night Live”) at 8 p.m. on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate.
The St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute graduate will be tense about the game between his beloved Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots at the Ralph.
“Trust me,” said Haykel in a telephone interview. “As soon as I see our technical supervisor, I will make sure I see a feed of the game wherever I am.”
“We will be in dress rehearsal,” added Haykel. “I probably will be able to watch it. I couldn’t concentrate without knowing what is going on in the game. Once we are in the dress, we are handling nuance as opposed to handling major problems.”
Haykel uses a general contractor analogy to describe the role he and fellow producers Don Mischer and Juliane Hare have in the telecast.
“We talk to the network and the Academy (of Television Arts and Sciences) about what our vision is for the show,” he explained. “We discuss creatively what we want to do. We put it on paper, design sets for the show, hire all the key players. We manage all the people, budget the show, execute the show and then wrap it up. We come up with the idea for the house, we draw the plans, we dig the hole, we build the house and we manage it, then the homeowners move in and we walk away. So we created something.”
What’s this year’s vision?
“This year it is just that television is great,” said Haykel. “There is so much great television on the air. It is trying to show it off, get the actors and actresses in it on stage and give them an opportunity to score in front of a live audience.”
The 49-year-old Haykel was about as secretive as Pats Coach Bill Belichick in giving out show details. He has been impressed by Samberg, the fifth host he has worked with on the Emmys.
“Andy is going to bring an incredibly fun, exuberant level of energy,” said Haykel. “He’s been great to work with. He really is into it. He is bringing all of his experience doing sketch, his videos and ‘Saturday Night Live’ experience.”
“We have a couple of surprises in the show. Andy has a history of doing musically based stuff. He is certainly going to play to his strengths. I am sorry to be somewhat coy.”
The statement led me to assume Justin Timberlake, who has done some very funny music videos with Samberg, might show up.
“Don’t assume anything,” said Haykel. “Obviously that would be awesome but the show is not going to sink or swim with one or two individuals showing up.”
Haykel doesn’t have a favorite from the previous Emmy programs he was a part of hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers.
“It is sort of like saying, ‘Who is your favorite kid?’ ” said Haykel, a married father of two teenagers. “They are all so different. They were all a blast to work with. I thought Neil Patrick Harris’ opening number was wonderful, ‘Put Down the Remote.’ Fallon did ‘Born to Run.’ Kimmel did a really funny film with women. And Seth is so smart and tells such wonderfully crafted jokes. Everybody does something that is sort of reflective of themselves. Our job is not to change what you do, but help you do what you do as well as possible in this environment.”
One issue in recent Emmy telecasts is that most of the audience hasn’t seen several nominated shows. Haykel said time restrictions in a three-hour program that gives out 26 awards make it difficult to educate the audience about nominees in shows like the Amazon comedy “Transparent” and the BBCAmerica drama “Orphan Black.”
“It is a paradox of doing a peer-voted show,” said Haykel. “They have chosen the best work in the minds of the people who do it professionally, but not necessarily the most popular work.”
“We try to use clips in the nomination packages to give a little sense of the show. You can’t explain it all, especially like in ‘Orphan Black,’ where (Emmy nominee Tatiana Maslany) plays multiple characters … Hopefully you give the audience enough of a taste that it interests them enough to check out some of these shows.”
Haykel said he hasn’t seen “Orphan Black” and producing the program actually educates him. “I find out a lot from these clips as well,” he said.
“The Emmys really is a celebration of television and there is so much good television on that you can’t possibly watch it all.”
He is hoping for a similar reaction to the one that writer-producer Vince Gilligan (“Breaking Bad”) gave after winning last year’s final Emmy.
“He said ‘wow, this Emmy flew. This is great,’” recalled Haykel.
“That is one of the best compliments we’ve gotten.”
Haykel said he is sure of one positive review: “I always say I could produce an execution and my mother would love it.”