By Catherine Morrissey
February 8th, 2013, marked a turning point in recognizing excellence in the international kids business: instead of handing out ONE Emmy statue for the best in “Children and Youth” the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences took a dramatic course change, and handed out SIX (6!) of their impressive statues at a dedicated International Emmy Kids Awards event held in New York City at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers.
Maybe a result of the dramatic expansion of kids channels around the world (from 64 channels in 2000 to over 275 channels in 2010), or as a new revenue stream for the Academy (as some muttered quietly under their cynical breaths), whatever the truth is, sometimes it doesn’t really matter why there’s a new awards event. True, several countries have their equivalents of the International Kids Emmys. But others including France have nothing at all.
This new standalone Emmy event, dedicated to recognizing the best in kids programs outside of the US, seemed quite welcomed by most in attendance. The Emmy and its brand are held in high esteem, a natural result of the International Academy’s rigorous selection process for finding and recognizing excellence. Throughout any given year, they create 29 events around the world.
Hosts for their judging reunions are always members of the Academy. Industry pros help them evaluate and choose what truly is “the best.” For the new Kids Awards alone, here are the numbers of volunteer judges of kid’s content - Final Round: 38 judges. Semi-Final Round: 76 judges. First Round: 30 judges.
GRAND TOTAL # of International Emmy judges for six Emmys = 144 unique critiques!
Yasser Al Zahn, Sales & Distribution Manager for Al Jazeera Children’s Channel and baraem.tv, arrived a day early to meet his fellow judges. They faced a challenging day in Biarritz, France – inside all day while the waves pounded and the sun shone brightly at their beach resort on the Atlantic Ocean. Hosted by Le Rendez Vous pre-MIPCOM market, which takes place every September, the gallant and gracious Mathieu Bejot of TV France International delighted in supporting the International Emmy’s first-ever Pre-School Emmy Award category judging process.
Other pre-school category judges include Patricia Hidalgo Reina from Disney (EMEA), Jessica Symons from Channel 5 (UK), Trine Ruud from NRK (Norway), Vicky Schroderus from YLE (Finland), Laurence Blaevoet from Canal + (France), Celine Chesnay from France Televisions (France), Elena Tagirova from TV Channel 2 x 2 (Russia) and Beathe Anita Daae from TV2 (Norway).
From the mid-summer 2012 submission of 17 episodes (produced in 2012 and 2011), the Emmy’s pre-school nomination jury watched one episode and had a second one available, if needed in order to conclude their evaluation.
According to Yasser, there were not too many surprises, since he and his colleagues are “in the business [of pre-school]” so prior to receiving their screeners, he supposed that about 70% of the series were already familiar to the jury. Their mission was accomplished in Biarritz. The Semi-Final judges selected finalists for the Final Round who went on to become the nominees for the New York awards ceremony on February 8th.
Nominees in attendance (who probably conveniently were in town to attend the New York Kidscreen Summit) were easy to spot across the room in the pre-dinner / awards cocktail party. Resembling Olympian winners, these international producers wore their Emmy nominee medals proudly on their chests, tastefully hung with shiny black ribbons round their necks – a nice complement to their tuxes and cocktail dresses.
At the snow sputtered early blizzard-evening with just below freezing temperatures, the formalities of purple carpet (purple = the new red, for kids?) was brief, with coats being checked rapidly for entry to the pre-dinner cocktail socializing. Cordoned off by curtains, the dinner + show were pretty much all set. Presenters for the International Emmy Kids Awards ranged from Eddie Izzard (UK comedian, Actor and Writer) to Sam Moran, the former lead singer of pre-school series The Wiggles (world famous, Australian-brand), to a gigantic walking, gesturing Transformer Rescue Bot (yes- we guessed there was a very “large man inside”).
With basic black-tie dinner fare, all tables ended with desserts, satisfied and ready for the awards show to begin: grins washed across the faces of sponsors, executives and nominees alike as all happily watched a smartly red-robed group of 25+ NYC children’s chorus file-in post-dinner whistling and singing “Consider Yourself at Home, Consider Yourself Part of the Family.”
INTERNATIONAL EMMY KIDS AWARDS WINNERS (and the international Emmy for kids goes to):
1. For best live action series - “Junior High School Diaries” from Japan.
2. For best non-scripted entertainment - “Energy Survival” from Norway.
3. For best preschool - “El Jardin de Clarilu” from Latin America and Argentina.
4. For best factual - “My Autism and Me” from the UK
5. For best TV movie/mini-series - “Lost Christmas” from the UK
6. For best animation – “The Amazing World of Gumball” from the UK
Finally the international kids producers have SIX of their very own spotlights, a dedicated venue and a captive audience in the 1st International Emmy Kids Awards, of over 30 tables of 10 people each.
Don’t miss your chance, to be a part the 2nd annual KIDS AWARDS - RED-ALERT! There’s a call for entries which ends soon (for next year’s 2014 awards). www.iemmys.tv  Submissions from early December until February 18, 2013. If you might want to be a judge? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org 
Catherine Morrissey writes regularly for AWN about the international animation industry.