Burnett, whose TV hits include "Survivor," "The Apprentice" and Martha Stewart's weekday show, says he will re-invigorate the awards program, now in its 36th year.
The goal is entertaining the audience, not self-congratulation by the winners.
"In the past, they've tried to jam in too many awards," said Burnett, "which ended up with the show just being a series of reading nominees and acceptance speeches.
"We want it to be fast-paced, with lots of laughter, fun performances, and letting viewers see the stars they voted for," he said.
But amid the changes he has in mind, Burnett plans to bring back Queen Latifah as host for her fourth consecutive year.
The program, airing live next January, honors fan favorites in movies, music and TV as voted on by members of the public.
But it also honors the audience, he adds.
"The show is all about thanking the people who watch television, pay for music and buy theater tickets," said Burnett. "That's the whole point of it."