Emmys Make Some Major Changes to Next Awards (and some are really stupid)
The Television Academy, in an effort to morph and grow with the times have made some big changes for this year’s upcoming Emmy Awards. Expanded series line-ups, category separations and what should be a very contentious and argued rule about comedies and dramas. Here they are:
Series Nominees: The number of nominees in comedy and drama races has been increased from six to seven, due to increases in series production and formats. Not a bad one but why not just make it 10 or open-ended like the Oscars if you’re going to just keep adding one more every couple of years?
Comedy vs. Drama: To clarify the difference between the comedy and drama series categories, series with episodes of 30 minutes or less are defined as a comedy; those with episodes of more than 30 minutes will be considered a drama. This is the bad one. Orange is the New Black can say goodbye to any Comedy Series Emmy chances and Modern Family can probably rest assured now that it will win every year of its run. This is something I saw coming and that we talked about in our Emmy podcasts before but it still feels pretty targeted. At least Uzo Aduba got her Emmy already, she doesn’t stand much of a chance now. Now, a network can submit hour-long series as a comedy, and an industry panel will make a final decision. Producers may formally petition this new Academy industry panel to consider their series’ eligibility in the alternative category. This nine-member panel will include five industry leaders appointed by the Television Academy Chairman and four appointees from the Board of Governors. A two-thirds vote of this industry panel is required for petition approval. A possible reprieve for Orange is the New Black? What if a non-network comedy runs over 30 minutes, as they sometimes can? In what is supposed to be a progressive move is really not; the landscape of television is changing and one-hour comedies and 30-minutes dramas are a real thing. Would In Treatment have been submitted in Comedy during its run? What about Ally McBeal back in the day? Television shows are more fluid now than they used to be and this rule feels archaic and arbitrary.
Series vs. Limited Series: Much like the Golden Globes did, Mini-Series will be changed to Limited Series and defined as programs of two or more episodes with a total running time of at least 150 program minutes that tell a complete, non-recurring story, and do not have an ongoing storyline and/or main characters in subsequent seasons. Comedy and Drama will continue to be defined as programs with a minimum of six episodes which have an ongoing storyline, theme and main characters presented under the same title and with continuity of production supervision. Producers may formally petition for review by the aforementioned industry panel to change category eligibility.
Guest Actor: Only performers appearing in less than 50% of a program’s episodes are now eligible to submit in the Guest Actor category. This means someone like Joan Cusack (Shameless), who appears in nearly every episode of the series, will have to submit in Supporting. Add to that the new rule of her show having to submit in Drama and that adds another layer of difficulty. Ironically, Shameless spent its first three seasons in the Drama category with only Cusack managing a nomination but re-submitted in Comedy last year, netting a Best Actor in a Comedy nomination for William H. Macy (he also got a SAG nomination in Comedy this year). Taking a quick look at recent winner in Guest Actor in a Drama Series, under this new rule a slew of them wouldn’t even be eligible now: John Lithgow (Dexter), Jeremy Davies (Justified) and Dan Bucatinsky & Joe Morton (Scandal) would have to be submitted in Supporting for consideration.
Variety Series: The Variety Series category is now split into Outstanding Variety Talk, to be awarded during the Primetime Emmy telecast, and Outstanding Variety Sketch, to be included in the Creative Arts Emmy program. This is actually a great addition. The wealth of great sketch comedy shows like Key & Peele and Inside Amy Schumer now won’t have to compete with the talk show variety hours that dominate the Variety Series category. Or, it could mean that Saturday Night Live wins this until the end of time.
Expansion of Final Round Voting: In an effort to expand member participation in the voting process, and to take advantage of the Academy’s extension of online voting to both rounds, all voters eligible to vote in a category’s nominating round are now eligible to vote in that category’s final round, so long as they meet two additional requirements: Much as in the former Blue Ribbon panel process, voters must watch the required submitted material online and attest to no specific conflicts of interest with the nominees.