ATAS backs off on credit crackdown

The Academy of TV Arts & Sciences has softened its credit crackdown, reinstating several producers to the Emmy nomination rosters.

Move comes a week after the org unveiled which producers would be eligible for an Emmy in the top series, specials and longform categories. The TV Acad had installed a more vigorous vetting process this year to answer complaints of credit inflation (Daily Variety, Aug. 22).

But that caused an uproar among producers who failed to make the cut, as well as their agents and managers. Many saw the TV Acad’s decision to aggressively enforce a cap on the number of individuals who can win an Emmy for comedy series (11) or drama series (10) as punitive.

“The Office” producer Mindy Kaling and “30 Rock” co-exec producers David Finkel and Brett Baer were among the individuals who had been deemed ineligible by the TV Academy under those caps.

But the org reversed course Thursday, adding Kaling, Finkel and Baer to the rosters — along with a handful of other producers from Emmy-nominated shows such as “Two and a Half Men,” “Ugly Betty” and “Heroes.”

Decision comes after a week of heavy lobbying by reps, as well as series producers and network execs, to convince the TV Acad to include names that had been left off the Emmy list.

“It’s been a really interesting week,” said one insider involved in the fight. The TV Academy “saw that they made a mistake.”

In the process, the org appears to be backing down somewhat from its decision to more aggressively enforce those producer caps — although TV Acad awards senior VP John Leverence said they remain in place as a general guideline.

“It was never meant to be an arbitrary exclusion of someone who has functioned in an eligible way,” said Leverence. “It’s been an ongoing review and discussion.”

In the case of Kaling, for example, Leverence said the awards committee initially kept her off the list because she’s a performer (she portrays the Valley Girl-ish Kelly Kapoor) as well as a writer and producer on “The Office.”

“It was a situation in which that amount of contribution in three separate categories gave the committee pause,” he said. “A red flag went up: Do we have a full-time producer here? With Mindy, there had to be further inquiries into her producer function.”

At first, the TV Academy said no. But the org later reversed its decision, after hearing from “Office” exec producer Greg Daniels — who was asked to send a detailed explanation of her duties — and NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Ben Silverman, who also happens to be a producer on “The Office” who had been deemed eligible for an Emmy.

Ultimately, because she had just missed the cut for an “Office” Emmy nom, the TV Academy decided Kaling’s eligibility could be deemed a tie for the 11th and final slot.

As for the genesis of those caps, Leverence said the TV Acad averaged the number of series producing teams up for a nomination between 2002 and 2005. Of the team members in those categories, the average number of comedy nominees was 11, while in drama the roster was 10.

Insiders involved in the lobbying said several producers who had been left off the list brought their complaints to the Writers Guild of America, which has held several discussions in the past with the Producers Guild of America and the TV Academy about the issue of credit proliferation.

Leverence said the TV Acad didn’t hear from the WGA, however.

Meanwhile, Thursday’s decision to bring some producers back into the fold won’t completely silence the credits controversy. Leverence said there are several individuals who have not been vetted and that inquiries are ongoing.

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