The June 10 start of nomination-round voting for the Primetime Emmys marks the beginning of the long and complex process leading to the climactic awards ceremony on September 22 at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles’ LA Live entertainment complex.
The 24,000-plus voting members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences – three times as many voters as there are for the Oscars, the majority of them thought to be based in California and New York - now have until June 24 to give their initial takes on entries for the Emmys in more than 120 categories. This year’s entry tally was not available as of June 10, but last year the total topped 9,100, and that number can only be increasing as the peak TV boom continues.
All Television Academy members can vote in the 16 programme categories that recognise the year’s best drama series, comedy series, limited series, TV movies, and so on. But only members of the relevant peer groups – of which there are 30, ranging from animation and art direction through title design and public relations to writing – get to vote in the acting, writing, directing and other individual achievement categories.
Nominees – seven each for drama and comedy series, six in the drama, comedy and limited series acting, writing and directing categories and five in most other categories – are announced on July 16.
Final-round voting runs from August 15-29, during which time all eligible members can cast votes online – once they have verified that they have watched the relevant content.
With so many categories to cover, the award presentations have to be spread over three nights. The first two – September 14 and 15 this year – reveal the Creative Arts Award winners and the third – September 22 – is the glamour show, known simply as the Primetime Emmys.
And this year, as usual, the awards will reflect some of the quirks and revisions that distinguish and shape the annual Emmy race.
The quirks include the so-called ‘hanging episodes’ rule that allows some series not eligible in the programme categories to appear in the directing, writing and guest acting categories.
This year, for example, 2017 best drama series winner The Handmaid’s Tale is not eligible in that category becausemost of its second-season episodes screened before the eligibility period of June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019 (and the third season began just after the eligibility window closed). But individual episodes from the end of the second season will qualify for this year’s directing and writing awards.
The latest revisions to the Emmy rules, meanwhile, could affect nominations in several categories.
Late last year, the Academy announced that series switching their preferred categories from comedy to drama – as Orange Is The New Black did in 2015 – or drama to comedy because of season-to-season changes in tone, could only do so once. And switches could become more common with the rise of comedy drama series and half-hour dramas such as Amazon’s Homecoming.
The Emmys’ documentary category will be affected by a new rule stipulating that releasing a programme in hundreds of cinemas on a single day disqualifies it from Emmy consideration unless it “meets the requirements for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking.” An extended theatrical release of more than 70 days already rules a documentary out of the Emmy running.
The rules for the Emmys’ TV movie category have also been tightened this year. While anthology series can now be entered either as a series or individual episodes in the TV movie category, to qualify in the latter group an episode must now be at least 75 minutes long. Had that rule been in force in 2017 it would have ruled Black Mirror episode San Junipero out of the TV movie category in which it won that year’s Emmy.