August 25, 2014 8:00am PT by Kaitlyn Durocher, Bryn Elise Sandberg
Emmys Primer: 6 Questions You're Too Afraid to Ask (But Really Want Answered)
The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards have arrived, and who's going to take home a statuette likely isn't the only question on your mind.
As late-night host Seth Meyers, along with several A-list presenters, readies to take the stage, many have wondered why the Emmys are looking so different this time around. There's the earlier airdate and some reconstructed categories, to say nothing of the questions surrounding the category choices: Orange is the New Black is a comedy? True Detective isn't a miniseries?
Below, The Hollywood Reporter answers the Emmy questions you've probably wondered about but never thought to ask.
1. It’s on a Monday? Really?
Yes, but not normally. The Emmys traditionally are held on a weekend in Sept., but this year it's moved up up considerably in an effort to avoid conflicting with the NFL. NBC, the network broadcasting the ceremony this year (the telecast rotates between the big four broadcast nets), didn’t want to interfere with its ratings juggernaut Sunday Night Football so it was moved to Aug. But with the MTV Video Music Awards set for Sunday, Aug. 24, NBC had to settle for Monday, the 25th. The last time it aired on a Monday night? Thirty-eight years ago. And yes, ratings are expected to sink.
2. More categories? Again?
The evolution of TV programming has urged its ceremonial honors to adapt with it. In a decision prompted by the revival of the miniseries, the TV Academy voted earlier this year to revert the TV movie and miniseries category back into two separate ones, the way they originally existed three years ago. The Academy also split the reality program race in two — with unstructured and structured categories — giving more unscripted programs a chance to take a trophy home.
3. So, how does the voting process really work?
Ballots are sent out to all members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, who then cast their votes for nominations. Once the ballots are returned and nominees are announced, each member votes for up to five program awards. But for individual awards (like, say, outstanding lead actress in a comedy series) each member is only allowed to vote for the categories in which they share their expertise. In other words, only voting members well-versed in humor can vote for Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
4. About those categories, what's the story?
It wasn’t until the fourth Primetime Emmys that nominations for the categories were expanded to a national level. Before 1952, only shows produced or aired in the Los Angeles area were eligible. Since then, new categories have continued to emerge, including those paying special attention to hair-styling, lighting and costumes. That there aren't strict rules on what defines certain categories -- be it a mini versus a regular series or a drama versus a comedy -- has caused a fair amount of blow back of late as networks from HBO (anthology series True Detective) to Netflix (comedy entry Orange is the New Black) have looked to game the system.
5. Were the Emmys always formatted like this?
The answer, in short, is no. The 17th Primetime Emmys in 1965 saw a shocking format change from previous years. Categories were streamlined into only four major competitions, cut down considerably from the nearly 20 categories awarded the year before. After experimenting with the new structure for a year, the Academy decided to return to a more traditional format that allowed for more accolades. Apart from minor category tweaks, the structure has essentially stayed the same ever since — with over 90 categories today.
6. How did he land the hosting gig?
Who emcees the awards depends largely on the network broadcasting the ceremony that year. Seth Meyers was the logical choice to host this year as he had launched Late Night on NBC only months earlier and he could benefit from the additional eyeballs. “There’s a chance this could go terribly wrong, but the thrill and excitement that it could go right is what draws us into a lot of this,” he told THR of a gig some see as thankless. Plus, as he noted, the host is only on stage for about 15 minutes of the three-hour ceremony, and about half of that is at the top of the show. Last year, CBS’ How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris was tasked with entertaining the audience, while ABC’s late show personality Jimmy Kimmel hosted the year before. The last time NBC had the telecast, its other late night face, Jimmy Fallon, emceed to rave reviews.