TV Academy Chief Bruce Rosenblum Says Emmy Competition Is a 'Perfect Storm' (Q&A)
This story first appeared in the May 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
With voting now underway for the 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Television Academy chair Bruce Rosenblum speaks to THR about what's already shaping up to be an ultra-competitive battleground for TV's top prizes. The president of television at Legendary Entertainment sounds off on online voting, his biggest priorities for the Academy this year and why it's impossible as a voter to "watch everything."
The Emmys have a challenge that the Oscars do not in that digital content creators like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon also have a stake. Can the selection process truly be fair when there are hundreds of players?
The quantity of original scripted series has never been greater, making it a much more dispersed process than the Oscars, across a much broader variety of content. It's a perfect storm. All platforms -- broadcast, cable, digital -- are important to our members. So we have to focus on expanding our reach. An Emmy is very important to a show like Game of Thrones, but it's also important for a company like Netflix to get recognized, as it did last year with House of Cards. Our role is to recognize excellence in storytelling, and this is no longer limited to broadcast and cable.
How will voting moving to an online system for the first time affect the contenders' pool?
I hope more people will participate. It's probably true people vote for their favorite shows. As you broaden your base, those favorites should dissipate a bit.
Why is there such a chasm between ratings hits -- The Big Bang Theory, The Walking Dead -- and the shows that get recognized?
The Academy has been criticized because the most popular shows aren't nominated. But we aren't the People's Choice Awards, and we're not the Golden Globes. This is a voting process by our peers: 18,000 members of the industry. I agree it is a challenge for the system when a hit like Big Bang Theory hasn't been recognized with [a series] Emmy. But our job is to create rules so our members can choose shows they feel are worthy of recognition. Also, remember it takes longer for some shows; Friends didn't win best comedy series until its seventh season.
What are some of the specific goals for the Academy this year?
We have redesigned our brand. We want to expand our voting base. Most importantly, we've launched a $40 million capital campaign to build a media center with a 600-seat theater and offices for our foundation.
You're a voting member (as well as president of TV at Legendary Entertainment). Do you actually have time to watch everything?
(Laughs.) If anybody tells you they're watching all the shows, they're lying. I watch enough to articulately cast a ballot, but I've definitely got to go get caught up on True Detective.