Unlike the Oscars or even the Golden Globes, the Emmys have little sense of tradition and change up their rules every year. Major revisions in the recently published rule book for 2019 include a minimum run time for movies, new names for the reality-competition categories and a simpler nominating process for music. See below for a breakdown of more of the slew of new rules:
Anthology series are officially recognized
The strategy that “Black Mirror” has employed to submit its episodes as separate movies is now formalized, with the rules noting that an anthology has the option of doing that or submitting its whole season together as a single program, like “Easy” did in the comedy categories last year. “Black Mirror” scored nominations with colonic titles like “Black Mirror: San Junipero” two years ago, but parenthetical ones like “USS Callister (Black Mirror)” last year and the latter is now the official titling convention. The rules previously made no mention of fictional anthology series.
In races in which a contender has come within two percent of scoring a nomination, the Emmys have added it as an additional nominee, but they are now restricting this from categories that proportion their nominees based on the submissions. For example, Best Half-Hour Narrative Production Design has five nomination slots that are distributed to single-camera and multi-camera shows, depending on the breakdown of submissions for consideration. This was supposed to result in four single-camera shows being nominated alongside one multi-camera show last year, but a close race resulted in there being five single-camera shows nominated opposite the one multi-camera nominee. Best Comedy Directing, Best Series Technical Direction, Best Variety Series Directing and Best Variety Picture Editing are the other proportional categories that had “ties” last year that are now prohibited.
Genre re-categorizations are officially one-time
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” earned a Best Children’s Program nomination last year for its second season after failing to be nominated in Best Comedy Series for its first season. “Shameless” similarly submitted its first three seasons as a drama, but has had greater success in the comedy categories for the last five years. The academy has now formalized that such programs cannot switch a second time.
“Hanging episodes” rules are both stricter and more lenient
Although the eligibility period runs annually to May 31, episodes that air before nominations voting closes (June 24 this year) have been eligible to be submitted as part of seasons that are otherwise eligible. The academy now requires hanging episodes to air by the start of nominations voting (June 10 this year) instead of the end of it. However, the academy is also now allowing all June episodes, including those that air at the end of the month after voting closes, to be eligible if advance online access to the episodes is provided to academy members by May 31.
New awards for choreography and score
Best Choreography is being split into Best Narrative Choreography and Best Reality/Variety Choreography. The nominees for Best Choreography came exclusively from reality and variety series last year. Best Narrative Choreography will have no nominees and a panel will decide if there is one, multiple or no winners. Documentary scores were previously eligible in Best Series Music and Best Movie/Limited Music, but now have their own category: Best Documentary Music.
Proportional nominees for sound mixing awards
Best Variety Sound Mixing nominees will now be proportional to the submissions from series versus specials. Best Documentary/Reality Sound Mixing will now be proportional to the submissions from documentary versus reality programs.
Short Form Series get more rules
“Short Form Series” previously had a maximum episodic run time of 15 minutes and there is now a two-minute minimum, which would have disqualified some nominees last year. Short series are now eligible only in categories that are specifically designed for short series or that are open to all programs. For example, writers of short comedy series are ineligible because they could not enter Best Comedy Writing and there is no Best Short Form Writing category, but a visual effects artist of a short series could enter Best Special Visual Effects because the category is not genre-specific. Short series will also now be screened by panels to determine if they are even worthy of appearing on the nominating ballot.
Stricter rules about what qualifies as fantasy or science fiction
The Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costume category previously recognized “Any entry containing Fantasy/Sci-Fi costumes” and now recognizes “Any entry containing even one Fantasy/Sci-Fi costume.”
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