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E! reimagines People’s Choice Awards with new categories and no host

E! reimagines People’s Choice Awards with new categories and no host
Ellen DeGeneres was a winner at 2017's People's Choice Awards. (Christopher Polk)

It's fitting that an award honoring the year's best television revival will be presented as part of the People's Choice Awards, an awards show in the midst of its own revamp. After 44 years on CBS, the annual event, which airs Sunday night, has moved to the E! Network.

"The People's Choice Awards is truly a reflection of global pop culture from the point of view of the audience, the consumer," said Adam Stotsky, E!’s president. "It's not a black-box board of governors or an academy membership. It really reflects the tastes and passions and interests of the people."

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According to Stotsky, E! has been eyeing an entry into the awards show landscape — beyond the red carpet, that is. Its “Live from the Red Carpet” franchise made pre-show programming an integral part of the televised event and catapulted Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic into household names.

"We're always at the Golden Globes, the Oscars and the Grammys, and we've talked perennially about building off of our expertise and actually creating our own awards show," he explained of leaping at the opportunity to buy the night from Procter & Gamble.

“The notion of starting something from scratch inside a fairly competitive marketplace is a little daunting,” Stotsky added, “so whenever opportunities arose to acquire rights for some of the smaller shows, we've had the discussion. This one was a bull’s-eye acquisition.”

Adam Stotsky and Jen Neal are reimagining what an awards show should be.
Adam Stotsky and Jen Neal are reimagining what an awards show should be. (Lisa Berg / NBCUniversal)

Produced by Wilshire Studios and Den of Thieves, and with executive producers Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager, the ceremony is being rebooted in every way. Not only did the event change networks and owners, but it will also take place two months earlier (well before January's crowded red-carpet calendar) and at Santa Monica's Barker Hangar, a blank canvas compared to the usual venues like the Microsoft Theater and the Shrine Auditorium.

The show — which will include performances by Nicki Minaj and Rita Ora — will broadcast live across the cable networks of NBCUniversal, including Bravo, E!, Syfy, Universo and USA, and air in 161 countries. Voting has expanded to be counted across all online platforms, including Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.

Thirteen new honors, like the aforementioned one highlighting TV reboots, have been added to this year's lineup. The ceremony will also applaud the year's best music video, concert tour, comedy act, reality show, reality TV star, reality competition contestant and "game changer," or an athlete who's had a profound social impact.

Some of the additions particularly embrace online content in ways other major awards shows don't currently commend. Categories such as "Pop Podcast" and "Bingeworthy Show" praise series on the terms they're created — for the internet and for extended-session viewing, respectively.

Michelle Phan and Patrick Starr are some of those competing for the title of Beauty Influencer; Marnie the Dog and Nala Cat are among nominees for the prize of Animal Star.

E! took into account that today's audiences are platform-agnostic, consuming entertainment and pop culture wherever it may be.

"We took a look at how people watch things, and it's changed," said Jen Neal, E!'s executive producer of live events. "These categories are all things that are happening in our modern and current world. We want to make sure we're reflecting that, and letting the people vote on the things that mean the most to them."

Busy Philipps, left, pictured with guest Olivia Munn, will unveil the People's Choice Award winner of the Revival Show category on "Busy Tonight."
Busy Philipps, left, pictured with guest Olivia Munn, will unveil the People's Choice Award winner of the Revival Show category on "Busy Tonight." (Jordin Althaus / E! Entertainment)

The ceremony will salute the careers of fashion designer and singer Victoria Beckham and actress Melissa McCarthy with its annual Icon Awards. It will also introduce the People's Champion Award, an honor highlighting one's achievements in social justice that will be given to Bryan Stevenson, the founder of Equal Justice Initiative. John Legend will present the award and perform during a tribute to Stevenson.

With all the new additions, E! is indeed omitting something: a host. The network aims to seamlessly transition viewers from a two-hour red-carpet pre-show to a two-hour awards show and a post-ceremony episode of Busy Philipps' new late-night talk show, "Busy Tonight" (where the winner of the Revival Show category will be announced).

"You've got the red carpet out on the street or in the parking lot, and then you’ve got the show inside the venue — they always feel like two different experiences," said Stotsky. "Our aim is to create a holistic experience, given our history with that red carpet and physically drive it right into the show itself."

"We have some amazing ideas and star-packed talent, and we said, 'We actually will not be relying on a host to transport us through this,'" added Neal. "There are so many other moments in the show that we think are unique and amazing for the audience and the fans who are engaging at home."

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