Plan to replace with documentary kudo shot down

Emmy has decided to keep its award for main title theme music.

A plan — floated earlier this year by the executive committee of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ music branch — to replace the award with one for original documentary scores, has been rejected by the branch membership.

The vote was 85-36 in favor of keeping the award, which honors the best theme music for a new series. Music branch governor Mark Watters had argued that the main title has become “a lost craft in our business” and that most network shows either severely truncate them or eliminate them.

“There were passionate and well-reasoned arguments from composers on both sides of the issue,” Watters said Monday. Many felt that while a new documentary score category was a worthy idea, they didn’t want to trade one music category for another, he said.

Some suggestions to “improve” the category (and thus increase the number of submissions, which have declined in recent years) were to include miniseries main title themes and end-credit themes, neither of which are currently eligible. Watters said those ideas will be reviewed and possibly implemented next year.

“There seemed to be a lot of sentiment for a strong push to create a brand-new category for documentary scores,” Watters said. Currently, music for non-fiction programs must compete against dramatic shows in the series and movie-miniseries-special categories, which many composers believe is unfair.

The branch executive committee is expected to campaign for a new Emmy for nonfiction score, possibly as early as next season. It’s not clear how receptive the ATAS board of governors will be to the idea of adding a music Emmy to the five music categories.

The proposal “got people talking about the state of main titles in the current TV marketplace,” Watters said, “and that can only be a good thing.”

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