Emmy voting opens up home front

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There's good news for the blue-ribbon panelists voting on actors vying for Emmy recognition.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' board of governors on Wednesday night approved a rule stating that blue-ribbon panel members voting on comedy and drama series actors and actresses vying for nominations in the leading, supporting and guest-starring categories can screen submissions from the comfort of their home rather than at ATAS headquarters.

"The user-friendly nature of at-home judging will allow us hopefully to increase the quantity of the volunteers," ATAS senior vp awards John Leverence said. "It will be a lot easier to have a 10-day period to screen DVDs at home and cast their ballots than to take time out of their busy schedule to spend a day or two at the academy."

Blue-ribbon panelists voting for the comedy and series program categories will still be required to travel to the academy's headquarters.

"With the performers, we have about 10% of the member pool that we do for programs," Leverence said. "We're not concerned about drawing sufficient numbers to vote on the programs, but for the smaller group of performers, this is more convenient and user-friendly."

Also among the most recent changes approved Wednesday night is that the performer categories could see more than five nominees in a given category this year, if the sixth-place vote-getter ends up within a 2% statistical proximity of the fifth-place nominee.

"Our accountants told us there are situations where the races are very tight and it was hard to make a statistical distinction between the votes for somebody in fifth place and in sixth place — virtually a dead heat," Leverence said. "So in order to be fair to the person in sixth place," that person also will be cited as a nominee.

Meanwhile, the performers vying for supporting and guest-starring Emmys will be allowed this year to submit their tapes edited down to only and all of their appearances in a single episode. Leverence said this has been the procedure for the Daytime Emmys for years and also in the variety, music or comedy series Primetime Emmy category.

"Rather than asking a panel to look at an entire episode, they can concentrate in on (the person) they are judging," he added.

In addition, performer candidates voted on by blue-ribbon panels will not be required to submit a "previously on" statement this year, with the board voting to make it optional now. Leverence said the reasoning behind that change came from the realization that it's unnecessary and "irrelevant" for actors appearing in a nonserialized program with stand-alone episodes — say, "Law & Order" or "The New Adventures of Old Christine" — to "contextualize" their performance if it doesn't involve an ongoing story line.
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