TV Academy Gets it Right on Variety Series/Spec Split

Let’s give credit where it’s due: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences still has a big headache awaiting it when organizers try to pare down the number of awards presented live during the annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast. But the group did make a smart move in splitting the awards for writing and directing in variety, music or comedy programs into two categories: series and specials.

The most recent Emmys underscore the problem. The variety directing category pitted the 80th annual Academy Awards against series such as “Saturday Night Live,” “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” It is, at best, an apples and oranges comparison.

Of course, the last thing the TV academy needs is more awards, as anyone who has spent a week sitting through 50-some-odd categories at the Creative Arts ceremony can testify. Still, the reasonably artful solution will be for the categories to rotate back and forth between the main Primetime Awards and the Creative Arts showcase. Notably, that might be the best alternative available assuming the board proceeds with its voted-on plan to whittle a half-dozen or so awards out of the principal show to provide the producers more flexibility, and it’s telling that writers and directors were willing to grant a use-of-clips fee waiver in exchange for a compromise that was to their liking.

Here’s the announcement:

In a move to expand its recognition of two key peer groups, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has established separate series and specials categories for both the Outstanding Directing and Writing Emmys® for a Variety, Music or Comedy (VMC) Program. Television Academy Chairman-CEO John Shaffner made the announcement today.

“The Television Academy’s Board of Governors, writers and directors peer groups have long wanted to see separate competitions for the VMC series and specials,” Shaffner said.  “Now, writers and directors working on both VMC series and specials will take part in competitions that recognize the creative challenges posed by each format, as well as the talent required and accomplishments possible in both the series and specials categories.”

Starting with the year’s Primetime Emmy Awards, the presentation of awards for directors and writers of VMC series will rotate annually with those for VMC specials between the Creative Arts Emmy Awards and the Primetime Emmy telecast.  Those VMC Writing and Directing Awards presented at the Creative Arts show will be acknowledged on the Primetime telecast.

This year, the Creative Arts Awards are scheduled Saturday, Sept. 12, and will air on E! Entertainment Television on Sept. 19; the Primetime Emmy Awards will be televised Sunday, Sept. 20 on CBS.

“We are grateful to both the Directors Guild of America and Writers Guild of America East and West for working with us on this change and graciously granting a modification to our current clip fee waiver that accommodates this rotation,” said Shaffner.

More Voices

  • Hollywood Safe Workplace

    Why Hollywood Needs to Lead the Way in Showing How to Create a Safer Workplace

    Let’s give credit where it’s due: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences still has a big headache awaiting it when organizers try to pare down the number of awards presented live during the annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast. But the group did make a smart move in splitting the awards for writing and directing in […]

  • Seven Seconds

    Fighting the Racial Bias at the Core of Hollywood’s Cop Shows (Guest Column)

    Let’s give credit where it’s due: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences still has a big headache awaiting it when organizers try to pare down the number of awards presented live during the annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast. But the group did make a smart move in splitting the awards for writing and directing in […]

  • Harvey Weinstein Trial

    Column: Documentarian Barry Avrich Ponders Whether Harvey Weinstein Will Be Convicted

    Let’s give credit where it’s due: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences still has a big headache awaiting it when organizers try to pare down the number of awards presented live during the annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast. But the group did make a smart move in splitting the awards for writing and directing in […]

  • Janet Mock Pose

    'Pose' Writer Janet Mock on Making History With Trans Storytelling (Guest Column)

    Let’s give credit where it’s due: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences still has a big headache awaiting it when organizers try to pare down the number of awards presented live during the annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast. But the group did make a smart move in splitting the awards for writing and directing in […]

  • Tony Awards Sightlines Column

    How to Produce the Tony Awards: 5 Unsolicited Tips

    Let’s give credit where it’s due: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences still has a big headache awaiting it when organizers try to pare down the number of awards presented live during the annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast. But the group did make a smart move in splitting the awards for writing and directing in […]

  • Under the Silver Lake

    Cannes 2018's Hidden Thrill: The Opportunity to Find New Voices

    Let’s give credit where it’s due: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences still has a big headache awaiting it when organizers try to pare down the number of awards presented live during the annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast. But the group did make a smart move in splitting the awards for writing and directing in […]

  • Kathryn Bigelow Kathryn Bigelow poses backstage

    It's Time for Action, Not Promises, to Get More Women in Filmmaking (Guest Column)

    Let’s give credit where it’s due: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences still has a big headache awaiting it when organizers try to pare down the number of awards presented live during the annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast. But the group did make a smart move in splitting the awards for writing and directing in […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content