The TV Academy has taken the unusual step of postponing its elections for one year, allowing all existing officers and governors to serve an additional year, even if that goes beyond the existing cap on service at consecutive two-year terms.
Sources at the academy, best known for presenting the Emmy Awards, described the one-time-only move – which required board approval to amend its bylaws – as an effort to “maintain continuity,” with the organization in the midst of a $40-million fundraising campaign and construction on a significant renovation of its North Hollywood headquarters and theater. The theater is scheduled to reopen in April 2016.
The decision, ratified by the board at a meeting Thursday night, means that current chairman Bruce Rosenblum, whose term would have been up in the fall, will serve a fifth year along with some other officers. Governors from the various branches are elected on a staggered basis – the next election would have been in November – so their terms will be prolonged to 2016 and 2017, depending on when they were installed.
In addition to the fundraising and construction, the TV Academy is in the midst of preparations for next year’s 70th anniversary. The group has also been involved in a membership push (having grown to more than 20,000 members) and the ongoing integration of new services, such as Netflix and Amazon, into the Emmys. Nevertheless, some academy insiders were surprised by the action, with one veteran noting that the organization has dealt with big events and initiatives in the past without feeling compelled to alter its bylaws.
Part of the reason for the postponement, academy sources say, is a desire to succeed Rosenblum, the president of Legendary Entertainment’s TV/digital media arm and former head of Warner Bros. Television, with another senior executive. According to those sources, top industry officials were reluctant to seek the voluntary chairman position in the midst of the capital campaign, which has millions left to raise.
In the past, the academy has been an organization where members gradually ascend through the ranks, essentially waiting their turns to serve in the upper echelons. Historically, though, the sometimes-fractious organization is perceived to have accomplished more – especially in terms of opening doors at the studios and major networks, which televise the awards – when a well-established TV insider is at the helm.
That perhaps peaked with Richard Frank, the former chief of the Walt Disney Studios, who served a total of three terms (not consecutively), from the late 1980s into the 1990s. Rosenblum — first elected in 2011, while still at Warner Bros. — is the highest-ranking chairman since Frank. In his first race, he defeated a board veteran, Nancy Bradley Wiard, at the time a freelance producer and consultant representing the academy’s daytime branch.
As noted, officers and governors are volunteers, with a pair of the latter representing each of 29 peer groups, from animation to writers. President-chief operating officer Maury McIntyre oversees the paid staff, having been promoted to that role in May 2014, after the previous president, Lucy Hood, died of cancer at the age of 56.