Campaigners Say There’s No Secret to Successful Emmy Strategy

Ray Richmond is an AwardsLine contributor. This story appeared in the June 12 issue of AwardsLine.
The question of how publicists generate sufficient buzz and attention to land their lesser-known TV series performer clients Emmy nominations is one that has no single answer. It’s something of a combination of the right advertising, effective marketing, timely late-night talk show appearances, savvy social media campaigning—and luck. And then, of course, the actor or actress requires the necessary goods in terms of talent or no amount of effort will matter.
Jillian Roscoe, vp of talent at ID-PR in Los Angeles, includes among her client list a handful of series regulars who landed their first Emmy noms (and, in a few cases, wins) under her guidance. They include Max Greenfield (a surprise comedy supporting actor nominee last year for Fox’s New Girl), Ty Burrell (nominated the past three years and a comedy supporting winner in 2011 for ABC’s Modern Family), Jim Parsons (a lead comedy nominee since 2009 and winner in 2010 and ’11 for CBS’ Big Bang Theory) and four-time nominee John Slattery of AMC’s Mad Men.
“There isn’t any secret,” Roscoe maintains, ”except to have very talented clients. My job is simply to make sure that the right people—i.e. TV Academy voters—have my people on their radar. I don’t need to spin anything. It’s about strategically targeting, and I’m just a bridge.”
One longtime personal publicist with several high-profile TV clients who prefers to remain anonymous emphasizes that the cooperation and participation of a client in any campaign often makes the difference between earning a nomination and being overlooked. “You hope they’re together with you on it,” she explains. “And if they’re not pushing, you have to try everything: Late-night shows, daytime show appearances, special-issues interviews. The ultimate question is, do you do a mailing or buy ads yourself?”
Richard Licata, executive vp of communications at NBC and who has helped spearhead Emmy campaigns at HBO, Fox, Showtime and other networks, makes the point that sometimes getting attention for younger talent requires patience, and that often you need to first plant a seed and look for it to sprout a year or two later. ”That’s how it worked when we tried to get a supporting nom for Merritt Wever on Nurse Jackie back in 2010,” Licata recalls. “And then finally, Merritt was nominated in 2012.”

Emmys Q&A: Jake Johnson

Michael Ausiello is founder and editor in chief of TVLine. This story appeared in the June 12 issue of AwardsLine.

Jake Johnson took Emmy watchers by surprise earlier this year when the New Girl actor elected to exit the supporting actor category in favor of the coveted, competitive lead race (pitting him against such awards heavyweights as Alec Baldwin, Jim Parsons and Jon Cryer). But upon closer inspection, the move was something of a no-brainer. The burgeoning relationship between Johnson’s Nick and Zooey Deschanel’s Jess was the driving force behind the Fox comedy’s stellar second season, and it cemented the actor’s status as a bonafide romantic leading man. In a recent conversation, the 34-year-old Chicago native talks about entering the lead-actor Emmy race, opens up about butting heads with series creator Elizabeth Meriwether, and votes for his favorite Season 2 episode.

Creatively speaking, New Girl managed to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump. Why do you think that was?
It’s (due to) our writers. I think it got funnier in Season 2, crazier and also more grounded. I didn’t know who my character was at all in the first season. And I would tell that to Liz. I’d be at a table read looking at the script, and I’d go, “So, now Nick does this.” And she’d be like, “Just say the lines; it makes sense.” And when I came back for Season 2, not only did I think Nick was very clear on the page, I thought all of the characters were. I think Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Jess (Zooey Deschanel) were very clear in Season 1. And this season I think Nick is. I think Winston (Lamorne Morris) is. I think Cece (Hannah Simone) is. I think the whole show works in a much better way.

Are you relieved Liz didn’t drag out the Nick-Jess romance for six seasons like a lot of other shows would have?
I am. I didn’t want to wait. Because the way I’ve been playing Nick from the pilot was he has feelings for her. To deny that over and over for years—it just didn’t feel as honest. I don’t know if they’re going to (end up) together or not. I don’t think Liz knows. But at least (we’re) being honest about, yes, these two people live together, there’s chemistry… things are gonna happen.

Why did you decide to enter the lead actor race?
Truthfully, Max Greenfield and I were talking about it one day, and he said, “You should consider going out for lead.” And I thought, well, I’m not really the lead. Zooey’s the lead. And he goes, “No, the Nick-Jess (dynamic) is really like (the center of the show).” And we had a big conversation in our trailer about it. And I thought it was interesting, so I threw the idea out to my publicist and we all talked about it, and we all thought it was kind of a fun move.

Should you find yourself with a nomination, do you know which episode you submit?
The “Menzies” episode where Nick (meets serenity guru) Tran, but it’s more silly-ridiculous. I like the funeral episode because it shows the emotional side of Nick. But if I were to pick right now, it would probably be the “Cooler” episode. The one where Nick and Jess have their first kiss.

Are you one of those actors who grew up watching the Emmys? Would a nomination be a dream come true?
It would be an honor come true. Growing up, I remember hearing how certain actors had these accolades in front of their names like, “Three-time Emmy nominee so-and-so,” and I’d be like, “Whoa, that guy must be a very serious actor.” I never imagined one of them being in front of my name as an actor. It would be an honor.

Is there an actor whose career you would like to emulate?
It’s tricky because I’ve already done things that I don’t think they do. Like, I think Mark Ruffalo and Sam Rockwell are very interesting actors, and I really like what they do. But I don’t think I can imagine either of them in the hot tub with Tran. (Laughs.)