LOS ANGELES – It's a true Battle of the Network Stars — except this time all the network stars may lose.
The twice-delayed Emmy Awards will finally air Sunday night, facing stiff resistance from a critically acclaimed, heavily promoted miniseries, a blockbuster movie and a little event known as the final game of the World Series.
"It's going to be quite a night of TV if the seventh game [of the World Series] gets on," Marc Berman, an analyst for Mediaweek, said before a 15-2 blowout of the New York Yankees by the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday night meant that Sunday's game would be played.
Though it traditionally airs in September before the fall season starts, the original Sept. 16 date was postponed after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., made Joan Rivers' comments on Vera Wang gowns and overlong acceptance speeches for best-sitcom trophies seem trivial.
The beginning of U.S. airstrikes on Afghanistan Oct. 7, the first rescheduked date, set the gala affair back yet again.
But the new date for the television industry's biggest event means that, while it'll be a great night for television in general, it could be a dismal night for television's stars and for CBS.
Besides Game 7 of the World Series, the show will go up against the final chapter of HBO's World War II epic Band of Brothers, the hit computer-animated movie Toy Story 2, and part one of the World War II miniseries Uprising on NBC.
The pressure's on because the ceremony is airing on the first weekend of the November "sweeps" period, which is used to set local ad rates.
But Berman said the full television-programming buffet meant the Emmys would find its fans.
"When networks have the right programming on, when it's diversified and interesting, there still can be an audience for the Emmys and the miniseries," Berman said.
The awards are used to hogging the ratings. Last year on ABC, the ceremony was the No. 3 program for the week of Sept. 4 and drew more than 21 million viewers -- its biggest audience since at least 1986, when Nielsen Media Research updated its methods for measuring viewers. Normally, however, the ceremony airs against reruns.
Ellen DeGeneres is host of the ceremony, which has adopted a low-frills approach in light of the terrorist attacks. The red-carpet fanfare of star arrivals has been reduced and participants were advised to wear dressy business attire instead of tuxedos and gowns.
The West Wing and The Sopranos are vying for top honors in the 53rd annual primetime awards.
The telecast begins at 8 p.m. EST.
The Associated Press contributed to this report