Shaffner reelected as ATAS chairman

Overcomes challenge from Brian Seth Hurst

John Shaffner has been reelected as chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, overcoming a challenge from second vice chairman Brian Seth Hurst in a run-off vote Wednesday night.

Shaffner will fulfill a second two-year term presiding over a board that was evenly split between the candidates during an earlier vote in December. In fact, the run-off was necessary, sources say, because some governors went home after a second ballot, not realizing that it hadn’t produced an outcome.

Hurst — who comes out of the academy’s relatively nascent new-media branch — had mounted a run against Shaffner, who drew criticism for a proposed “time-shifting” plan that would have moved the presentation of eight awards out of the live Primetime Emmy ceremony in an attempt to streamline the telecast. The group’s leadership eventually retreated from that plan after the proposal generated protests from the guilds representing writers, actors and directors.

Although there has been fractiousness in the past on the academy’s board, chairmen are generally reelected if they choose to run. Including Shaffner, five of the last six chosen for that voluntary role have served consecutive terms. Producer Bryce Zabel, who also faced a contested race, opted not to seek a second term in 2003.

The academy consists of 28 branches, representing everything from animators and art directors to sound editors and title design. Shaffner is a production designer whose credits include “Two and a Half Men.”

The academy must confront various formidable challenges in the coming year, the foremost being negotiation of a new TV contract for the Emmys.

There is also a movement afoot to launch a rival award show in conjunction with the Paley Center, in part due to dissatisfaction with the academy in senior executive circles. Sony Pictures Television CEO Steve Mosko initiated that campaign.

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