New Rules Expand Emmy Award Voting, Refine Categories
By Valli Herman
When the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Award nominations are announced on July 16, viewers may notice a number of significant changes to major categories, in addition to including new designations for Outstanding Costume Design.
The changes specific to costume design help focus more on the era of the story instead of its format. Previously, awards were given for Outstanding Costumes in a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (longform), and also for Outstanding Costumes for a Series.
For 2015, the two categories have been changed to two “area” awards: one is for period and fantasy costumes; the second is for contemporary costume design. Both new area awards cover productions that are a series, miniseries or movie.
“This year, Costume Design asked the Awards Committee to accommodate the expansion of costume achievements by expanding the two categories to four categories: one for period/fantasy in series; one for period/fantasy in longform, and one for contemporary in series, and one for contemporary in longform,” said John Leverence, senior vice president, awards at the Television Academy.
To fit those requirements into the existing parameters of two categories, the Academy and the Costume Designer made the following changes to Round One voting criteria:
• Changed the categories (head-to-head competition with a single winner) to “area” awards, in which each achievement is considered on its own terms in non-preferential voting, with the possibility of one, or more than one, award.
• In each area, extended eligibility to both series and longform achievements.
• Made the number of nominations proportional to the number of entries. That is, if there are 30 period/fantasy entries in series, and 20 period/fantasy entries in longform, then the top three vote-getters in series and the top two vote-getters in longform will emerge as the five nominations. The same goes for contemporary awards.
Further, rules governing costumes for a period/fantasy series, miniseries or movie clarify the definition of “period” as any program whose setting is 25 years prior to the current awards eligibility year. Evidently, in the eyes of the TV Academy, 1989 is now where clothing officially becomes vintage.
The changes reflect the academy’s ongoing effort to align awards with the realities of TV production and content.
“There is so much incredible work being done. TV has grown aesthetically all the way down the line. Production values are astronomical these days, and it’s a global market,” said Terry Gordon, costume design governor for the Peer Group Executive Committee for the Television Academy.
“Back in the day, contemporary costume design was a separate genre,” said Gordon. “The change is allowing for more Emmys to be awarded for work that is excellent, but hasn’t had a chance in the past.”
The designation for contemporary design was edged out during a previous restructuring. Gordon said a request to streamline the show and the awards process resulted in combining genres into broader award categories. As a result, many different genres combined into the categories, resulting in science fiction, fantasy and contemporary shows competing against each other.
“Everyone votes for the fantastic costumes [in period productions], but there is such excellence in contemporary design that needs to be recognized,” Gordon said.
The Round Two voting criteria also has changed.
“You are no longer comparing the five nominees to each other. You look at them individually and determine if that show has the excellence to deserve an Emmy. If you think all five of the nominees are worthy, there could be five Emmys awarded in each category,” said Gordon, who cautioned that it’s unlikely that the voting would align so consistently.
The juried award hasn’t changed.
Some costume house and studio cutter-fitters, as well as head tailors and owners of independent costume manufacturing businesses, are now eligible to be active, voting members. Heads of workrooms (cutter-fitter or tailor) on television shows also are eligible for active membership, said Sue Bub, a key costumer in Local 705 who is a costume supervisor governor for the Peer Group Executive Committee for the Television Academy. Bub said the changes were intended to make the voting more inclusive, particularly within the ranks of the 705.
Those who can vote include:
• Costume designers and costume supervisors with at least 20 hours of programming earned within the four years preceding application for membership.
• Assistant costume designers, key costumers, costume set persons or workroom supervisors with at least 25 hours of televised programming.
Voters eligible to vote in a category’s nominating round are now eligible to vote in that category’s final round if they meet certain requirements, such as having no conflicts of interest with the nominees.
Last year, the academy clarified the Emmy-eligible titles, which include costume designer, costume supervisor, assistant costume designer and single-credit costumer (who is the only costume person on the show).
In other news, the TV Academy now defines drama and comedy according to time restrictions: all series a half hour or less are comedies; those longer than 30 minutes are dramas.
The new rules also expand the number of nominees in the Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Comedy series from six nominees to seven. Other rules have dropped the term “miniseries” in favor of “limited series,” split the Outstanding Variety Series into two categories (talk and sketch), and also refined the definition of a guest actor.
“There are so many opportunities now,” Gordon said. “We want to make sure everyone gets the credit they deserve.”