'Rock' and a Hard Place

Different rules affected some writing staffs more than others

It seems a little unfair.

In the writer for a comedy, musical or variety series category, a show's writing staff -- all of them -- stand to win an Emmy. This year, NBC's "Saturday Night Live" has 22 nominations and "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" has 16, while Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" and have 16 and 14 nominations, respectively, and CBS' "The Late Show With David Letterman" also has 14.

But over in the drama and comedy series categories, no more than three writers are nominated for any one episode, even though such shows as "30 Rock" and "Lost" also have large writing staffs.

"The variety category recognizes the whole staff every year and it's not that different (from ours)," says "30 Rock" executive producer Robert Carlock, a double nominee this year for penning two of the series' episodes. "Some of these episodes are an almost overwhelming group effort. If only the Emmys would recognize all facets of the process."

"The way we write is so collaborative, we all have a lot of input and really contribute to each other's scripts," agrees Ron Weiner, nominated for penning the "30 Rock" episode "Mamma Mia." "In some ways, it's strange one person should win over others. There should be a best writing category so the staff could win because the staff really does work as a group."

The feeling that the category isn't inclusive enough isn't limited to comedy scribes. "Lost" executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, nominated for writing their show's season finale, share a similar sentiment. "Although Carlton and I wrote the finale, that finale was broken down by a staff of writers, all eight of us in a room together," Lindelof says. "That's a staff that there's no way to recognize because (the effort is) treated as an individual achievement."

Still, he says, there's a sense of shared excitement over the nomination. "On Emmy (nomination) day it really felt like a team win even though (only) our names were on it. That makes it especially sweet."