Fox show the first broadband nominee

Fox’s quickly canceled drama “Drive” has inadvertently made TV academy history on Thursday, becoming the first-ever Primetime Emmy broadband nominee.

Twenty years from now, when Emmy only recognizes programming found on the Internet, historians will point to the mostly forgotten “Drive” as the show that started it all.

Only 50 seconds of the three-minute “Drive” clip nommed Thursday actually aired on TV. Instead, the special effect, titled “The Starting Line,” was streamed on Fox.com — and only ever seen on Fox.com.

The clip – which took a year and a half for special effects shop Zoic Studio to produce – opened up “Drive” by introducing characters as a camera slid from car to car racing down a busy freeway. “The Starting Line” scored a nomination under new rules enacted this year by the org.

In the case of “Drive,” visual effects producer Raoul Bolognini contacted the TV academy’s special effects peer group about finding a way to make his effect eligible, even though the show was canceled before six episodes aired, and ineligible for an Emmy as a result.

“We had originally submitted for the category of best outstanding visual effects in a drama series – but the show was canceled,” Bolognini said. “We felt so passionately about the work we created that we wrote a letter to the Academy to see if there was any other category we could be considered for. They looked into everything for us. Outside of that, I explained the situation to Fox to see if they’d support us getting into a different category.”

The loophole: Bolognini (with the approval of the awards committee) persuaded Fox.com to stream the three-minute scene on the web. That allowed “The Starting Line” to be eligible as a special, and compete in the special visual effects category for miniseries, movies and specials – as a Fox.com show.

That’s how “Drive” is now going up against HBO’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” TNT’s “Nightmares & Dreamscapes,” ABC’s “The Path to 9/11″ and Discovery Channel’s “Secrets of the Deep” in that category.

According to TV academy awards senior VP John Leverence, the Fox.com run of “Drive” reps the first series to find its way to the Emmy nomination process via the new broadband eligibility.

“I’ve got a happy crew on my side at the moment,” Bolognini said. “They felt like a year and a half of their work was going to go to waste.”

Meanwhile, expect more online fare to make the grade when the Acad announces its annual Primetime Emmy interactive category (a juried award) in the next few weeks.

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