Party of Six

Rule changes mean more nominees, less disappointment for talk-show hosts

More Emmy coverage  

Emmy is getting a facelift this year with several key rules changes.

Most significantly, 10 of the most high-profile categories will expand from five to six nominees, offering more opportunity for shows and performers to be recognized during the broadcast. (In the past that happened only if there was a tie.) The supersized categories include best comedy and drama, as well as actor, actress, supporting actor and supporting actress in the comedy and drama fields.

"What we're trying to do is expand a little because there's a lot more television shows out there," says Alan Perris, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' COO, referring to the cable universe.

This year the academy has dropped the Emmy for outstanding individual performance in a variety or music program, which avoids pitting such series hosts as Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart against specials performers like 2006 winner Barry Manilow and 2008 winner Don Rickles. Series hosts and performers will now compete in separate races, giving the likes of Colbert or Stewart a chance to finally take a statuette home. No talk-show host has won an Emmy since the host and performer categories merged in 1997.

New categories include voice-over performance for animated series, which splits the children's program category into informational/nonfiction and entertainment. In addition, art directors for multi- and single-camera series now compete separately.

Other changes include a streamlining of the voting process to make it more transparent and easier to understand. In the major performance categories, for instance, the peer group within the academy nominates and all of the members vote on the final winners.