ATAS softens stance on producer Emmys

Co-producers added to contender lists

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has backed down — for now — from its controversial stance on the touchy issue of who is eligible for producer kudos in the annual Emmy derby.

On Friday, the TV acad said it would add more than a dozen co-producers previously deemed ineligible to the list of Emmy contenders in top award categories covering drama and comedy series, miniseries, children’s program and variety, music or comedy special. Primetime Emmy honors for the 1997-98 season will be handed out Sept. 13.

In February, the TV acad committees that govern the Emmys voted to change the eligibility rules to exclude the lower-ranked co-producers and associate producers from the list of producers recognized in the nominations for best series, miniseries and special categories. Previously, the question of who qualified as a producer for Emmy consideration was left up to the individual showrunners or studios.

The TV acad had intended to take a stand on the issue of the proliferation of producer credits, which many in showbiz say are increasingly handed out as perks to those who have little or nothing to do with day-to-day creative matters on movie and TV sets.

But the decision regarding co-producers prompted a flood of appeals from the studios after this year’s Emmy nominations were unveiled in July.

Ultimately, the TV acad agreed to soften its stance because it recognized that the change in eligibility rules were made in the middle of the TV season, when titles for creative execs were already finalized, said Susan Baerwald, national awards chair for the TV acad. Baerwald promised that the TV acad would revisit the thorny issue of producer credits in time for next year’s Emmy contest.

“We are trying to preserve the integrity of the (producers) award,” said Baerwald. “Our industry has been struggling in both motion pictures and TV to stem the proliferation of producer credits. In terms of the Emmys, we felt that because sometimes this title is given away, we want to make sure we recognize only the people who are really responsible for producing the show.”

Here is a complete list of the co-producers approved for Emmy eligibility:

  • Comedy series: Alex Gregory, Peter Huyck, “The Larry Sanders Show”; Jennifer Crittendon, Steve Koren, “Seinfeld”; Mary Fukuto, Lori Kirkland, “Frasier”; Michael Glouberman, Andrew Orenstein, David Israel, Jim O’Doherty, “3rd Rock from the Sun”; Steve Robin, Pam Wisne, “Ally McBeal.”

  • Drama series: Pam Wisne, Christina Musrey, “The Practice”; Wendy Spence Rosato, Jack Orman, David Mills, “ER”; I.C. Rappaport, Richard Sweren, William N. Fordes, “Law & Order”; Lori Jo Nemhauser, John Shiban, “The X-Files.”

  • Children’s program: Jim Lewis, Bernie Keating, “Muppets Tonight”; David Gumpel, “The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss.”

  • Miniseries: Janace Tashjian, Erik Bork, Bruce Richmond, “From the Earth to the Moon.”

  • Variety, Music or Comedy Special: Tom Forrest, Randy Gladstein, “Garth Live from Central Park.”
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