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How did worthy shows like Treme get snubbed in the Broadcast Television Journalists Association’s Critics Choice Awards nominations, announced today (and analyzed by THR’s Tim Goodman)? Were there fistfights among the judges? “Actually, nothing that dramatic,”Critics Choice drama nominating committee voter Tom Tangney tells THR. “We all got to nominate five best drama series and they just took the top 10 vote getters, so there was no real horsetrading.” Best drama noms are Justified, The Killing, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Fringe, Game of Thrones, and The Good Wife.
“We never met in person,” says Tangney. “We opened a Facebook discussion page where each and any of us who wanted to contribute to the discussion could.”
Compare that with the old-school way of awards voting, where critics physically gather, and the electoral process can be as elaborate as the one that gets Jeremy Irons‘ character elected Pope in The Borgias. For instance, critic Richard T. Jameson tells THR, Robert Altman‘s The Player owed its 1992 New York FIlm Critics Circle Award for best picture to “the absentmindedness of a certain newsweekly critic about the date of the voting.” That critic’s vote, plus a colleague’s proxy vote he was supposed to take to the meeting, would have given Clint Eastwood‘s Unforgiven the award, says Jameson.
Jameson’s account of his fellow National Society of Film Critics’ 1996 voting at New York’s Algonquin Hotel sounds like a horse race. On the first ballot, Lars von Trier‘s Breaking the Waves started one point ahead of the Coens‘ Fargo. “[Mike Leigh‘s] Secrets & Lies was only a hairsbreadth behind, with 25,” notes Jameson. On the second ballot, “Breaking the Waves rang the bell with 35 points on 14 ballots. Secrets & Lies had advanced to second place, 31 points … Fargo had faded, and finished out of the money, 15 … the second runner up was in fact [Jim Jarmusch‘s] Dead Man, an odd man out indeed, with 17.” The restoration of Hitchcock’s Vertigo got a NSFC award after a tied vote was broken by critic Michael Wilmington, who found a vote for Vertigo by critic Stuart Klawans on a crumpled piece of paper in his shirt pocket.
By contrast, BTJA tries to streamline the process. “We try to keep it simple,” says Critics Choice chief Joey Berlin. “There were some members actively campaigning for Friday Night Lights nominations,” says Tangney, “but other than that and a few stray comments for and against a couple of possible acting nominees, it was all very civil and above board.”
The nominating ballot listings for the rival (and infinitely dominant) Emmy Awards will be announced tonight after 6 p.m. and the nominations on July 14. “I think the Emmys will have a hard time coming up with a better list of nominees than we’ve generated,” says Tangney. “I personally might have shown a little more love for In Treatment, Raising Hope, and Glee, but overall it’s hard to fault any of the nomination categories. All deserving nominees, I’d say.”
But one voter at least had no love for Treme. “Too sluggish is a good way to put it,” says Tangney. “I watched it dutifully but it felt like an obligation more often than not.”
The Critics’ Choice Television Awards will be streamed by VH1.com from the Beverly Hills Hotel on June 20, and telecast on Reelz Channel June 22.
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