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Emmys Announce Rule Changes; Series Categories Expand to 7 Nominees

The Television Academy has unveiled a wide-ranging set of new rules for the upcoming Emmy season, including expanding the series nominees to seven (from six), clarifying the definition of “guest” actor, and further distinguishing between “limited series” vs. comedy and drama series.

These moves are intended to address industry-wide concerns raised after several shows engaged in so-called “category jockeying” in last year’s race.

Series Nominees: The number of nominees in comedy and drama races has been increased to seven, due to the dramatic increase in series production.

Comedy vs. Drama: To clarify the difference between the “comedy” and “drama” series categories, series with episodes of 30 minutes or less are defined as a “comedy”; those with episodes of more than 30 minutes will be considered a “drama.”

Hourlong series can submit as a comedy, and the industry panel will make the final decisions. Producers may formally petition a new Academy industry panel to consider their series’ eligibility in the alternative category. This nine-member panel will include five industry leaders appointed by the Television Academy Chairman and four appointees from the Board of Governors. A two-thirds vote of this industry panel is required for petition approval.

Series vs. Limited Series: “Mini-Series” will be changed to “Limited Series” and defined as programs of two or more episodes with a total running time of at least 150 program minutes that tell a complete, non-recurring story, and do not have an ongoing storyline and/or main characters in subsequent seasons.  “Comedy” and “Drama” will continue to be defined as programs with a minimum of six episodes which have an ongoing storyline, theme and main characters presented under the same title and with continuity of production supervision. Producers may formally petition for review by the aforementioned industry panel to change category eligibility.

• Guest Actor: Only performers appearing in less than 50% of a program’s episodes are now eligible to submit in the Guest Actor category.

• Variety Series: The Variety Series category is now split into Outstanding Variety Talk, to be awarded during the Primetime Emmy telecast, and Outstanding Variety Sketch, to be included in the Creative Arts Emmy program.

• Expansion of Final Round Voting: In an effort to expand member participation in the voting process, and to take advantage of the Academy’s extension of online voting to both rounds, all voters eligible to vote in a category’s nominating round are now eligible to vote in that category’s final round, so long as they meet two additional requirements: Much as in the former Blue Ribbon panel process, voters must watch the required submitted material online and attest to no specific conflicts of interest with the nominees.

“Our over 17,000 voting members represent a dramatically changing television industry, and we need to continue to make sure we honor their creativity in the most relevant and fair ways possible,” said Television Academy chair Bruce Rosenblum. “As our growing membership creates and produces more content for ever-changing platforms, today’s changes in the rules and procedures are vital. We’re sure that in coming years we will continue to evolve our rules as our dynamic industry grows.”

The complete list of rules and procedures for the awards will be available in March at TelevisionAcademy.com.

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