Sunday, July 24, 2011

Guest Post Sunday!

For those of you who don't know, my husband watches a lot of television. I know, I know, most husbands do. But television is a very important part of his life. He reads blogs and reviews about his favorite shows, and sometimes about shows he doesn't even watch. So when the Emmy nominations came out, he wanted to talk to me about them, a lot. Thus the idea that he begin doing guest posts to my blog about the Emmy nominations and selection process. We chose Sunday since the Emmy awards show is on Sunday. So without further adieu...

I love tv. Television is an amazing medium for storytelling. On a weekly basis you can see individual character arcs, relationships form and crumble, detailed world-building, and experiments in narrative structure. The Emmys provide a platform for recognizing those singular achievements in television production. Thanks to Melissa I have an opportunity to share some of my thoughts on the nomination process, who deserves each award and why, and who was unrightfully snubbed. So, in leading up to the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards on 9/18/11, I will be doing a multi-part guest series on ‘A Listful Life’. Hope you enjoy!

Part 1: Nominations. This can be a complicated process depending on the category and area. So, I have given a simplified version for the most prominent categories.

Stage 1: A program will submit themselves for nomination. Individual actors, directors, writers, etc. can also submit themselves. A show is eligible if it aired in primetime between June 1 and May 31. Members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences can cast their popular vote of up to ten votes in each program category.

Stage 2: Once the votes are cast each show is asked to submit a single episode. The episode is accompanied by a ‘For Your Consideration’ packet including a description and information to put the material in context. Episodes will usually be the season premiere or finale as these episodes are clearly designed to attract the most in viewership. Occasionally, holiday specials or other standout episodes will be chosen for consideration. The materials are then reviewed by a Blue Ribbon panel consisting of appropriate Academy members; e.g., writers evaluating writers. Depending on the category, 5 or 6 candidates are chosen.

Stage 3: Stages 1 and 2 are combined, the results of the popular vote and the Blue Ribbon selection. Both sets of results are weighted equally, each contributing 50%.

Stage 4: The Stage 3 combination is finalized and the nominees are announced. In addition to a call for judges from the Academy to its members, some will volunteer themselves for the judging process. During the month of August each judge will screen their category’s nominees at home. Each judge will cast a vote for their favorite and mail it to Ernst & Young. Ballots are counted and the majority vote wins. Interestingly, an Ernst & Young employee is appointed keeper and will hand the award envelope to the presenter minutes before walking out on stage.

For me I think it would be interesting to calculate the probabilities of certain nominees winning based on past nomination and winner history. But, I don’t really have time to do this. During the Oscars I had found a site that not only listed probabilities for winners, but explained the math and assumptions in doing so. (I know. I visit some pretty awesome sites.) While the probability discussion is cool just by itself, I have a problem with how the whole nomination process shakes out. For example, in the category of ‘Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series’, out of 6 nominees, ‘Modern Family’ is nominated 3 times! Now, of course, each episode is different with a different director, but doesn’t this seem like stacking the deck? I really think that each program should appear only once per category, don’t you?

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