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Golden Globes Voters Guide: New Anthology Rule, Shorter Campaign Window

As the number of television series produced in a given year has expanded exponentially, awards committees have seemed to have a hard time keeping up — not only do the voting members of various groups and guilds need to be well-versed on what aired when and is therefore eligible, but they also need to keep track of the size of performers’ roles in order to know if they actually qualify for the category in which they have been submitted, as well as the general state of new and emerging formats.

When it comes to the television side of the ballot for the Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. (HFPA) has kept many things consistent year-over-year. This includes lumping all supporting performers — across drama, comedy, limited series and TV movie — into only two categories: one for male actors and another for female actors. However, there are still quite a few new elements to note when looking ahead to the 77th annual awards in January.

Call it a sign of peak TV, but for the first time in the history of the Golden Globes, episodic anthology series are allowed to compete. That’s right, the 90-odd international journalists who make up the HFPA were never before allowed to vote for an overall season of “Black Mirror,” for example, because each individual episode was its own standalone story. If the episode was more than 70 minutes long, it could have been submitted as a television movie. But with this year’s rule change, the three episodes that launched on Netflix in June are allowed to be submitted as one limited series. The exact phrasing of the rule is that episodic anthology series that “consist of two or more episodes with a total running time of at least 150 program minutes” that aired during the qualifying year can be considered. And it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, as networks that have notoriously campaigned hard for Globes have high-profile series at stake in this arena. This includes Amazon Prime Video’s “Modern Love,” HBO’s “Room 104” and CBS All Access’ “The Twilight Zone,” in addition to the aforementioned “Black Mirror.”

Actors appearing in anthologies may also reap rewards in the wake of the HFPA’s rule about episodic anthologies competing as limited series. An actor must appear in at least 50% of a series’ total runtime to be eligible in their respective lead acting category, but only 5% of the total runtime to go supporting. This is great news for big-name performers who were lured to television this year with a short-term project, such as a single episode of Amazon’s relationship anthology “Modern Love.” Anne Hathaway, Cristin Milioti and Tina Fey are all examples. But because these actors are primarily signing on for a one-and-done episode, if they qualify for submission at all, it will be in the supporting category, creating even more of a logjam in an already incredibly crowded race.

The 2014 Golden Globes introduced another contender in Netflix, which made its mark on the HFPA by nabbing noms for “House of Cards” in drama series, as well as lead drama actor and actress (and securing a win for the latter for Robin Wright, who was nominated against network-mate Taylor Schilling from “Orange Is the New Black”). Since then Amazon and Hulu have certainly provided ample streaming competition, but things are heating up even further now that Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus are officially out of the gate. Both streaming services launched in November, with ample time to woo the voting members of the press through conferences, parties and screenings. Apple TV Plus has proven awards are a priority by asking its talent to give up their weekends for such events, and therefore is poised to shake things up. BET Plus also launched in September, bringing with it a couple of notable series and partnerships. All eyes should be on how these new players fare as a precursor to how the market may change yet again when HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi enter the fray next year.

The Oscars moved up two weeks in 2020, which caused a chain reaction for the other ceremonies that come before it and subsequently shifted their schedules. For the Golden Globes, this resulted in a slightly shorter season that technically began back in July, one day before the Emmy nominations were announced. Television submissions opened for the 2020 Golden Globes on July 15, with the deadline for the small-screen nomination ballots to be mailed to members by Nov. 14 and the return date set for Nov. 25. The nominations will be read live on the morning of Dec. 9, with final ballots mailed by Dec. 19, to be collected by Dec. 30. The ceremony itself is set for Jan. 5, 2020.

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