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Emmy tweaks eligible dates

Dangling episodes can be considered for kudos

On at least one front, Tony Soprano can rest easy: His June 10 sendoff is still eligible for an Emmy after all.

Until now, the Academy of TV Arts & Sciences rigorously enforced its May 31 cutoff for episode eligibility. But with cable (and even broadcast) networks increasingly breaking the traditional September-to-May scheduling calendar, the TV Academy recently addressed the issue of so-called dangling episodes.

Now, if a series has aired at least six episodes during one eligibility period — in this case, for the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which cut off yesterday — then the extra episodes that haven’t aired yet can still be considered for this year’s kudofest.

Decision was made after HBO inquired about the final two segs of “The Sopranos,” while a crew member on CBS’ new reality skein “Pirate Master” asked about the first episode of that show (which bowed last night but will mostly air during next year’s eligibility period).

“It used to be that you’d end the year with May sweeps and then dawdle along during the summer,” said TV Academy awards senior VP John Leverence. “It reached a critical mass of anomalous concern, which is why the inquiries were taken to the board.”

The TV Academy’s board of governors approved the rule change on May 16.

In the case of “The Sopranos,” even though most of the show’s final season ran during the eligibility period for the 59th Annual Primetime Emmys, two episodes (including the finale) will air in June — past the May 31 cutoff.

But with just two episodes airing in June, the final moments of “The Sopranos” wouldn’t have been eligible for the 60th Annual Primetime Emmys next year, either (given the six-episode threshold necessary for comedy or drama Emmy nods).

That means under the original rules, the final “Sopranos” seg wouldn’t have ever been up for Emmy consideration. Now, the show’s final episode — expected to be a powerful denouement — can still be entered.

On the flip side, the May 31 premiere of “Pirate Master” can be held back and join the rest of the series’ first season, which won’t be eligible until next year for the 60th annual Emmy honors.

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