DGA event welcomes new television award

Highlighting its efforts to organize reality TV, the Directors Guild of America has created an award for directorial achievement in reality programs.

Kudos will be presented at the DGA’s 58th annual awards dinner Jan. 28. Only shows produced under a DGA contract will be eligible.

In its announcement Thursday, guild said more than 90 reality shows have been produced under DGA agreements since September 2003 following the launch of a campaign targeting such productions. DGA shows include “Fear Factor,” “Extreme Makeover,” “Big Brother,” “The Amazing Race,” “Average Joe,” “The Law Firm,” “Three Wishes,” “Treasure Hunters” and “Endurance.”

“Over the past several years, reality television has radically transformed the television landscape and now comprises a substantial portion of the primetime schedule,” said DGA prexy Michael Apted in a statement. “Ours has been a grassroots, show-by-show approach to the issue. Although organizing reality television is not easy and we have our work cut out for us, we’ve seen some real progress.”

The DGA sought to expand jurisdiction over reality TV via its negotiations last year on its basic film-TV contract but was unsuccessful. The WGA was subsequently unable to achieve expanded jurisdiction at last year’s contract negotiations and has launched an aggressive organizing effort.

In the DGA announcement, several execs praised the guild for its flexible approach.

“The guild understands that each reality show has its own particularities and is prepared to tailor its agreements to address the specific needs of each production,” said Andrew Jebb, VP of production at Nash Entertainment. “I think that’s why they’ve made substantial inroads in their organizing efforts.”

Under the DGA rules for the award, shows featuring dramatic or variety performance are excluded but are included in other award categories; programs must air during the calendar year 2005 to be eligible; and shows exhibited theatrically prior to TV exhibition are not eligible.

Award will be determined first by a nominating committee, which will select via secret ballot the top five programs. Those will then be viewed by blue ribbon panels to select the winner, also by secret ballot.

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