The Television Academy announced late Friday changes for the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards in 2021, including merging Variety Talk Series and Variety Sketch Series back into one category, a new stunt category, changes the official eligibility and category name for limited series’ and merging of the short form categories.
The separation of the Variety Sketch and Variety Talk categories had only been six years in but with changes adopted for the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards that created a flexible amount of nominations based on eligible submissions turned in only three nominees in the category, the Television Academy made the decision to merge it back with Variety Talk. Under the new rules, categories with between 20 and 80 contenders compete with five nominees; for six, there must be at least 81 entrants. As a result, variety talk was reduced to five nominees because there were just 24 submissions, while variety sketch held just 14 entries, that meant only three ballot slots. Respectively, Saturday Night Live and Last Week Tonight had dominated those categories individually, with SNL winning the last four in a row and John Oliver winning five of the six since the split.
Another big change came with the fine tuning of the Limited Series category as well as its name. The new name is Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series category, with the academy commenting “This will align storytelling formats throughout the competition. Individual achievements will compete in the relevant categories as defined by the program category.” Previously, an anthology series (like i) could submit in either the comedy or drama series categories; or networks could break up the series into individually entered, stand-alone movies like Netflix has successfully done with Black Mirror. As a result, the academy enforced a 75-minute minimum on television movies. This year, Amazon will face a similar issue with the Small Axe films, which are being campaigned as a Limited Series.
Additionally, the org merged the short form comedy/drama series and short form variety series merged into one category, outstanding short form comedy, drama or variety series.
With increased calls for stunt categories at other awards shows, like the Oscars, there will be a new stunt category for the Emmys – Outstanding Stunt Performance by an Individual or Team in a Drama, Comedy, Limited Series or Movie. “This new award will recognize stunt performers themselves; previously, there have only been stunt coordination categories,” the org said. “The award will acknowledge actual stunt artists whose performances across the global television medium are integral to storytelling each season. Team entries will be capped at four entrants.”
Also, the Academy continues to clarify eligibility for projects that have also entered the Oscar race: “To clarify the distinction between theatrical motion pictures and television movies during the ongoing pandemic, any non-documentary film placed on the AMPAS viewing platform for Oscar consideration will be deemed a theatrical motion picture and thus ineligible for the Emmy competition.”
As previously announced, effective beginning in 2021, any programs that have been nominated for an Oscar are no longer eligible to enter the Primetime Emmy Awards.
“Our annual review of Emmy rules and procedures is more important than ever,” said Television Academy Chairman and CEO Frank Scherma. “Our Awards Committee and Board of Governors undertake this annual evaluation with a very thoughtful and analytical approach to ensure that the Emmys remain relevant and in step with our industry’s ongoing evolution.”
The Television Academy also confirmed its 2021 calendar:
June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021
Eligibility period for Emmy entries
Online entry process begins
Deadline to apply for membership to guarantee voting eligibility for both rounds of the 73rd Emmy competition and for members to secure member entry fee discount. This date also applies to former members. Application must be completed and paid in order to qualify.
Deadline for current voting members to apply for hyphenate voting status
May 13, 6pm
Entry deadline for ALL entries that were originally presented 6:00 PM – 2:00 AM, June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021 (including hanging episodes); upload deadline for all entry materials
Nominations-round voting begins
June 28, 10pm
Nominations-round voting ends
Tuesday, July 13
Deadline for errors and omissions to the nominations
Final-round videos available for viewing
Final-round voting begins
August 30, 10pm
Final-round voting ends
Creative Arts Emmy Awards and Ball
CBS Telecast and Governors Ball