Ray Richmond is an AwardsLine contributor. This story appeared in the June 5 issue of AwardsLine.
It was last spring that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences voted to consolidate the four Emmy longform (made-for-TV movie and miniseries) acting categories into two, obliging leads to compete against supporting players. The reason, explained the TV Academy’s longtime senior vp of awards John Leverence, was that there had been such a notable decrease in the longform submissions that it no longer justified having their performers remain on even footing with those contending in drama and comedy series.
But then, just as the consolidation was poised to take effect April 17, the TV Academy suddenly reversed and abruptly reinstated all four categories for longform players. It seemed that the intervening 13 months had found a movie/mini revival, just when it looked like the genre had fallen out of favor. “The patient was on the operating table and about to be euthanized,” Leverence explains, “and then he suddenly rallied.” The unexpected surge in longform production and quality had generated such projects as Lifetime’s Steel Magnolias, FX’s American Horror Story, Showtime’s The Big C (repackaged as a miniseries in its final season), USA Network’s Political Animals, Sundance Channel’s Top of the Lake, and films including the HBO movie Behind the Candelabra that premiered May 26.
And so what was expected to be the biggest change to Emmy rules this year turned out to be no change at all. Instead, the most significant modification involves interactive programming, which ramps up from two awards in 2012 to five this year—including the addition of an outstanding interactive program honoring a show that inspires audience participation. The TV Academy is also merging the two children’s programming categories (entertainment and nonfiction) into one and adds an area award in nonfiction honoring informational series or special.