Bruce Barry had tickets to the Emmy Awards. His reality show was one of three finalists for outstanding achievement in arts and entertainment from the Southeast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
He convinced himself that a win wasn't possible and gave away his tickets.
About 8:30 p.m. June 26, Barry, the founder of Wacky World Studios in Oldsmar, got this text:
Well, Bruce Barry is the proud owner of an Emmy.
"I'm still pinching myself," he said. "I can't believe it."
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Last spring, cameras started following the animator and his team as they designed amusement park rides, colorful murals and themed environments for churches, museums, restaurants, schools and shelters from an 18,000-square-foot warehouse on Douglas Road.
The end result was 13 one-hour episodes of The Wacky World of Bruce Barry, which debuted Nov. 1 on FamilyNet, a network that aired in approximately 350 markets and reached more than 26 million homes before it was sold in December to ComStar Media.
Only four episodes actually aired before the sale, which made the nomination all the more surprising.
"I thought it was a fluke," Barry said. "I'm a newbie on the TV circuit. There's a lot of reality TV shows out there."
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The award was handed out June 26 during a ceremony in Atlanta. The competition included several more established names, including a reality show produced by 1980s and '90s R&B crooner Keith Sweat.
"Me and my wife were going to go up there," Barry said, "and then I said, 'We are not going to win. Let's give the tickets away.'"
Barry gave them to the show's director, Mark Allen, the executive producer on The Wacky World of Bruce Barry, who accepted the award.
"Who knew?" Barry asked. "I'm so mad at myself for not going."
The Emmy is on the way to Oldsmar. "We're building a glass case for it," he said. "We're going to put it right in the front lobby."
So what's going to happen to the unaired episodes? For now, fans can view them on YouTube. ComStar, which acquired all of FamilyNet's library as part of the sale, also may air the show, Barry said. Network officials could not be reached for comment.
"Since it's won an Emmy," Barry said, "I'm sure it's moving up in the ranks."
Rodney Thrash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4167.