INSIDE STORY: How to Build a Better Awards Show

09/28/2008 at 02:30 PM EDT

INSIDE STORY: How to Build a Better Awards Show
UPI Photo /Landov
Ratings were down and criticism was up for this year's Emmys – Jeremy Piven complained he felt he was being Punk'd – and the Entourage star wasn't alone.

"I got pretty angry this year with the Emmys," former American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told PEOPLE at the Fox Reality Channel Really Awards Wednesday. "We've forgotten that it's supposed to be entertainment as well as being self-congratulatory."

The problem has plagued other ceremonies, including the Oscars, which last week hired Dream Girls writer-director Bill Condon to shake things up. But exactly how?

PEOPLE asked a collection of Hollywood figures for their suggestions of how to cure the common congrats-fest, with ideas ranging from adding imaginative new categories, transferring more of it to the Web, returning to the ceremonies' entertainment roots and even featuring cable-style sex and profanity.

Vivica A. Fox, actress, at the Really Awards: "They need to go back to what it was when you used to watch an awards show, which is big production and big opening acts. Go back to what works: show business."

Christine Peters, producer, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days:"They have to think bigger. They need to turn these shows into events and maybe do these shows Las Vegas-style. Maybe they should charge the public who would pay to see real stars like Madonna or Britney Spears. You need to glam up these shows."

Jay Thomas, comedian, deejay and Emmy winner: For the Emmys, the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences should just give in to its own 'reality' once and for all and have an awards show where we get to vote people off and rate the level of banality we see trotted out before us. Johnny Knoxville would host."

INSIDE STORY: How to Build a Better Awards Show| Emmy Awards, Jeremy Piven

Jeremy Piven

Mark J. Terrill / AP

Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, reality TV star, at the Really Awards: "They just have to try to find a way to put it on the web. If they can find a creative way to incorporate the online presence with the broadcast presence, I think they will increase their numbers."

Siedah Garrett, Grammy Award-winning R&B singer: "Cut back on them. There are simply too many award shows. At one time, award shows were a novelty – there were two or three a year and people tuned in. Now they have award shows for everything, including the Award for Best Kitchen Sink. People are tired of it. Tired I say!"

Penn Jillette, magician, host the 2006 Creative Arts Emmy Awards: "We've found, through our Showtime series Penn & Teller: BS!, that lots of nudity and obscenity will make people watch anything ... in droves.

Lin Bollin, producer and former programming head, NBC Daytime:"They should try some sketch comedy. These are hard times in the country and people want to laugh and not listen to a laundry list."

Joe Adalian, columnist, Television Week: "Go populist with the categories, and give viewers a voice. Nobody's suggesting the Emmys morph into the People's Choice Awards, but why not introduce some new categories to reflect how TV has changed in the last 60 years? Some possibilities: Best addition to a cast, best ensemble cast and best finale. Viewers could also determine honorary Emmys in a couple of less serious categories like best reality show villain, most unexpected plot twist, or most gruesome murder on a CBS crime drama."

Additional reporting by ALONDRA HERNANDEZ and FRANK SWERTLOW

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