Emmy nominating ballots due a week from today! Five burning questions answered.

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Image Credit: NBC

On June 24, Emmy nominating ballots are due. (View the ballot listings online here. Fringe‘s Joshua Jackson and Mike & Molly‘s Melissa McCarthy will announce the nominees on July 14.) To celebrate, we phoned John Leverence, the Television Academy’s SVP of Awards, and asked a few evergreen burning questions.

• Who decides whether a show like Glee or Castle enters as a comedy or drama? Producers submit themselves, and then there is a review. Leverence says there have been ongoing discussions about whether to split the comedy category into two — sitcoms and dramedies. “When the Board was thinking about this, the feeling was that no, comedy is a broad spectrum, but we think that the comedy series category can accommodate that broad spectrum. You have the same kind of thing going on in the drama series. You have something like The Killing, which after every episode you want to go kill yourself … But you have things like Castle and White Collar,” he says. “The awards committee did a review, looked at the lineup, and they said, ‘The hell with it, let’s leave comedies where they are.’ The Board of Governors does not want to get into a game of Whac-A-Mole.” 

• Why is someone like Raising Hope‘s Cloris Leachman considered a guest actress instead of a supporting actress? Because that differentiation — much like the one between supporting actor and lead actor in the case of ensemble casts — is subjective and up to the performer. “A person is thought of as a particular kind of player, a particular kind of role within [the show],” Leverence says. “That person who’s the guest can choose to go guest or can choose to go supporting. It used to be no more than three episodes, and then no more than six, and then it really came down to, we’re not going to look quantitatively. We’re going to look at the title the person has. You have people like Shelley Long, an example of a guest on Modern Family, where she plays the mother and wreaks havoc [and then is gone]. But then you also have the Cloris Leachman situation in which you have an ongoing guest.” 

• Is there a cap on the number of people who can submit for supporting actor or actress from one show? No.

• Will we ever see an ensemble Emmy similar to what SAG awards entire casts? “The TV Academy has a problem with that, because we have a general principle that you can get one Emmy for one achievement. If we were to have that ensemble category, then Alec Baldwin is going to win for lead actor in a comedy series, and then he’s going to pick up a second Emmy for ensemble from a comedy series, and we have just done a violation of one of our long-standing principles for the awards,” Leverence says. “They’re going to get you if you do and get you if you don’t.”

• Why did Deadliest Catch move from the Outstanding Nonfiction Series category to Outstanding Reality Program when it came time to nominate its sixth season, which documented the passing of Capt. Phil Harris? It was a call made by the show’s producers who read this year’s somewhat modified rule that says Outstanding Reality Program should include documentary-style reality shows and docusoaps. “You have a situation with Deadliest Catch of a series that has been on sufficiently long enough that you have a continuing cast of characters there. Per our rules, when you have that, it would be considered a docusoap, and [you] must enter over into the reality category,” Leverence says. “It’s a sense that we are no longer freshly documenting the work on the boat. Rather, we are continuing the adventure with a cast of characters who we know and who are perhaps bringing their own personal narratives a little bit more than you would typically get in the first year or [in] a newer program that is essentially doing the same kind of documentation.” That’s why Coal, Catch EP Thom Beers’ new Spike series, for instance, is entered in the Outstanding Nonfiction Series race.

(Reporting by Kate Ward)

Read more:
Why ‘Parks and Rec,’ ‘Community,’ and ‘Justified’ can hope for an Emmy nod: Thank the TCA Awards!
Joshua Jackson, Melissa McCarthy to announce Emmy noms
Jane Lynch talks hosting this year’s Emmys: ‘I’m quite calm about it’
‘Deadliest Catch’ jumps categories at Emmys


Comments (25 total) Add your comment
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  • Dicazi

    Nominate some new people…….PLEASE!

    • KSG

      I agree. They seem to get stuck in a rut and nominate the same people for waaaayyy too long.

    • Diogo

      Fringe people, for example!!!

  • Mr. Holloway

    Sorry, but I call total BS on the Leachman example. She’s credited in 20 out of the 22 episodes for season 1, and she will be a part of the show next season. She’s a cast member, not a “Guest Star” and should be in the Supporting Actress race.

    Then again, I’m the same guy who thought John Lithgow belonged in the “Supporting Actor in a Drama” race for season 4 of “Dexter”, since he appeared in every episode of the year he was eligible. But even in that case, you can talk me into the fact that he was brought on for a season-long arc, and therefore a Guest Star.

    • Yabby

      I see where you’re going with this and I agree. However, her name was not in the opening credits during the first season and this is how she’s getting away with it. Kathryn Joosten won twice as ‘guest actress’ on DH, even though she’s in almost every episode. Since Joosten was in the opening credits this season, I am curious what her placement is this year.

    • Pablo

      I think Leachman nominated herself in the Guest Actress category so the cast members wouldnt be in competition with each other. Thats also probably why Martha Plimpton nominated herself for Lead Actress even though Garret Dillahunt only nominated himself for Supporting Actor even though they have equal roles

      • Mr. Holloway

        That’s a lovely gesture by Leachman…but it doesn’t mean she actually belongs there.

        @Yabby

        Joosten is a decent example, but I still say Leachman is CLEARLY a bigger, more regular part of “Raising Hope” than Mrs. McCluskey is on “Desperate Housewives.” (But that’s just my opinion.)

    • orville

      I agree. And I thought she was in the opening credits. Maw Maw certainly is (running off with her bra flying behind her), so I just assumed that Cloris had her name in the credits too. The academy needs to provide rules as to what can apply as guest–I’d say that if you’re in more than half the episodes of a season, it’s supporting and not guest.

    • Trisha

      I think she thought she had a better chance at getting nominated. Like when Rob Lowe submitted into leading even though he’s probably on parks and rec the least out of all the main cast.

  • Vince from NYC

    Fringe better get nominated for something.. John Noble will do just fine..

    • Jessica

      Agreed!

  • MWeyer

    Something people overlook every year is that the actors themselves choose which episode to send in to the committe and, surprising as it sounds, many send in episodes that are personal favorites rather than the ones that show off their best work. So sometimes, it’s their own fault they didn’t get the right stuff in to get a deserving nom.

  • mmmhmmm

    RuPaul better get nominated because I AM FROM CHICAGO!!!!!

  • Johnification

    I sort of understand the Guest/Supporting situation, since both categories kind of force themselves to be two things at once. The Emmy people probably don’t want to “spread the wealth” TOO much, but to me it would be most simply solved by having separate “Outstanding Recurring Guest” and “Outstanding Special Guest” categories. One more trophy, yeah, but solves a lot of problems and ultimately benefits everybody.

  • Kathy

    Glee wasn’t even funny this year and it was more sad then funny.I hope they take out Glee and put another show more deserving like Community for example.

    • Diogo

      Agreed!!!

  • Maddie

    Whoever picked the 2 Community episodes is a dumb ass.

  • Maddie

    Okay and why the hell do all the other shows get 2-4 episodes and Glee submitted like half their season? Thats just plain ridiculous.

    • Trisha

      These are my thoughts why perusing the ballot list for outstanding comedy
      I love Psych but why did it practically submitted it’s whole season?
      The Office submitted a ton too.
      Holy hell why is True Jackson VP on here?
      As someone above said the choices for Community suck.

  • Trisha

    Oh I realized I was looking at direction oopsie.

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