Emmys 2013: TV Academy Guru Breaks Down the New Rules

Inset: John Leverence

Senior vp awards John Leverence tells THR about backtracking on the miniseries and movies consolidation and which stunt performers are eligible this year.

This story first appeared in the June 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine

In his post as the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences’ senior vp awards, John Leverence frequently is called upon to explain to Emmy voters -- and the media -- an ever-evolving roster of changes and amendments. With voting for the 2013 Emmy nominations getting under way in June, Leverence, 67, clarifies a few of this year’s more substantial tweaks.

The Hollywood Reporter: On April 18, the Academy reversed its decision to consolidate the miniseries/movies lead and supporting acting categories. Why the change?

John Leverence: The board of governors looked at the entries they received in 2012 compared with this year and didn’t see a reduction in total number, which was our entire intent with the change. It was going to be like having 10 pounds of coffee in a 5-pound sack! So the board decided the consolidation wasn’t keeping in the spirit of the competition.

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THR: One rule that still is in effect this year is that writers on animated series can choose to submit their work for consideration in the comedy writing category. What was the genesis of this change?

Leverence: This basically started way back when The Simpsons was first eligible in 1990 and [executive producer] James L. Brooks said to us, “We really feel that the fact that it’s an ‘animation’ production is irrelevant to the fact that we’re writing a three-camera sitcom, and our colleagues in the multicam business are being submitted for comedy series.” So after a long discussion over numerous years, it came down to this: If a writer of an episode for The Simpsons wanted to detach himself or herself from the team in animated programming and migrate into the competition for writing on a comedy series as his or her submission, then that’s OK.

THR: Stuntmen and stuntwomen have publicly fought to get their craft more respect within the race, and this year there are two stunt categories -- one for drama and another for comedy. Does this mean that, say, Ty Burrell’s stunt double who falls down the stairs on Modern Family could have a shot at a nom?

Leverence: Yes, exactly. Comedy stunt performers consistently and wisely pointed out that most of the drama series stunts are filmed remotely or outside, and most of the comedy series stunts are done inside studio soundstages. You can’t blow up a car in the studio or do a crazy car chase, so many of the comedy people ended up not submitting because it was too much of an apples-and-oranges situation. Because how could slipping on a banana compete with a crazy car chase through the streets of New York City?

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THR: So if the logic holds, there could be a stunt category added for, say, the late-night variety shows if those performers lobbied hard enough?

Leverence: (Laughs.) I’m not expecting a lot of interest for variety stunts right now, but anything could happen in the future.


Key Emmy Dates
June 10: Nominating ballots are posted on the Television Academy’s website.
June 28: Deadline to return nominating ballots.
July 18: Nominations are announced live.
Aug. 23: Deadline to return at-home judging ballots for Creative Arts Awards categories.
Aug. 30: Deadline to return at-home judging ballots for Telecast Awards categories.
Sept. 15: Creative Arts Awards.
Sept. 22: Primetime Emmys telecast on CBS.