Emmy show aims for laughs, including for the dead

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - This year's Primetime Emmy Awards will feature a healthy dose of irreverence -- and that may even extend to remembering TV performers who have died.

"I think the in memoriam segment doesn't need to be a bummer. It can be a celebration of what is left behind," Mark Burnett, who is producing the 2011 Emmy show, told reporters on Friday.

"I am going to look at it a little differently...You are there to honor people's work, and so we can be very sad about it or uplifting about what is left behind," said the reality TV producer behind hits such as "Survivor."

The "in memoriam" segment honors TV actors, actresses, directors and other industry players who have died in the past year and, more often than not, can be a section that brings sadness to what is supposed to be a joyous awards show.

Burnett said he planned plenty of fun and spoof moments during the September 18 televised ceremony on Fox, when the most coveted awards in TV will be handed out to the year's top comedy, drama, reality show, actors and writers.

But Burnett said the fun and laughter would be affectionate, rather than snarky.

"Fox is edgier than other networks...You are allowed to jump off the cliff at MTV. At Fox you are allowed to lean over. What we need is to have a little fun with it. And the way you can do that is to have spoof moments -- a lot of small, very funny moments that have good natured fun with the last year in television," Burnett said.

"Glee" star Jane Lynch will host the Emmys for the first time. But Lynch, who plays scheming cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on the Fox musical comedy and who is also nominated for her second Emmy, said she would largely be playing herself at the award show.

"A little bit of Sue Sylvester goes a long way. I think we will probably leave her track suit on the Paramount (TV and movie) lot," Lynch said.

Lynch said she was approaching her Emmy hosting duties with "the necessary cocktail of excitement, anticipation and abject fear."

Saying she was hoping for plenty of laughs during the evening, she added; "My goal is that no one -- or at least only a very few people -- will cringe."

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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