For guests, performance and PR key

Lesser-knowns win by playing media game

While appearances by well-known movie performers on series generate a great deal of attention, lower-profile actors in recent years have grabbed their fair share of the nominations and awards in the Emmy guest-performer categories.

ABC’s “The Practice” has produced the last four winners in the drama series guest-actor category — John Larroquette (1998), Edward Herrmann (1999), James Whitmore (2000) and Michael Emerson (2001) — none of whom are big-time film stars. On the comedy side, TV veteran Jean Smart has won two years in a row for the recurring role of Lorna Lenley on NBC’s “Frasier.”

Certainly, the judging process seems democratic enough.

“With guest performers, you have a two-step nominating procedure,” explains John Leverence, veep of awards for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

First, for each of the four guest-performer categories — drama actor and actress, comedy actor and actress — there are typically about 60 submissions, with the entries made by either the actor or their show’s production company.

“They go on the performer ballot, with a synopsis of episodes they were in,” Leverence adds. “We then take the top 15, and we put those before a judging panel.”

After the five nominees in each category are selected, each are then judged in at-home viewing by members of ATAS’ performers branch to determine the winners.

Still, according to Conrad Bachmann, one of two governors of ATAS’ performers peer group, rarely does a thesp win on performance alone. Much of the guest-performer judging process still comes down to name recognition, sending out tapes, buying ads and good PR.

“Unless you have a studio or a production company backing you, it’s still a tough fight,” he says. “You take the average guy, unless it’s a big name, they’re not going to spend any money on you.”

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More TV News from Variety