TheBigC_310_1151By reducing the show’s final season to four hourlong episodes, Showtime may have given new Emmy life to “The Big C” and star Laura Linney — and further complicated the controversial miniseries-movie category.

“The Big C” earned three Emmy nominations in 2011, including a lead comedy actress nod for Linney, before being shut out of this year’s Emmy race except for casting. However, under its new structure, the show won’t be eligible to enter either the drama or comedy competitions, which require a minimum of six episodes per season.

TV Academy senior awards veep John Leverence said today that as long as “The Big C” meets the criteria for miniseries — a limited-run series that tells a single story with a beginning, middle and end that is resolved within the piece — the show could end up in the longform category by process of elimination. That would require an Awards Committee waiver of the rule that a miniseries can’t have the “created by” tag that typically signifies a longer-run program, but there is precedent for that waiver, most recently with “American Horror Story,” “Missing” and “The River.”

Showtime prexy David Nevins told attendees at the network’s Television Critics Assn. press tour panel that no Emmy plans for “The Big C” had been made yet. 

With “American Horror Story” scoring 17 Emmy nominations as a miniseries after having been widely perceived to be a drama, and Ashley Judd earning a lead actress nod for “Missing,” the addition of “The Big C” could further roil traditional movie-miniseries makers, who are already bristling from having those two generes compete against each other.  Linney, at a minimum, would become an immediate top prospect to earn an Emmy nomination for actress in a movie or miniseries.