Emmys: TV Academy's Awards Guru John Leverence Retiring, Rule Changes Announced

One major category has been renamed, the eligibility of "hanging episodes" has been tightened and self-published programming will now face a higher threshold to make it onto the ballot.
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John Leverence, who has overseen the rules and growth of the Emmy Awards for 39 years, is retiring, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced Friday. Leverence will continue to serve as a consultant for the 2020 Emmy season.

Julie Shore, another veteran TV Academy staffer, will succeed Leverence under a new title: vp awards and member services. The awards department and membership department were previously separate, but will now be streamlined.

The TV Academy also confirmed that it will no longer allow DVD screeners to be sent to its membership, a move "aimed at saving the television industry tens of millions of dollars and positively impacting the environment via elimination of waste." Instead, Emmy voters will be able to screen Emmy hopefuls via the TV Academy's viewing platform or digital platforms hosted by production and distribution services.

The TV Academy's board of governors also approved several changes to its rules for the coming Emmy season.

The outstanding information series or special category, won in the past two years by Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown over shows like My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman and Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, will henceforth be called outstanding hosted nonfiction series or special. The TV Academy's board feels that this "more accurately defines personality-driven programs in which the host drives the show's narrative" and "includes documentaries, travelogues, segmented/magazine program and interview formats."

The board also has tightened the eligibility for series and limited series episodes broadcast or posted after the end of the eligibility year (after May 31). Some of these programs have not completed their public rollout by that date — the episodes that haven't yet been shared with the public are called "hanging episodes." The new rules state that for series, hanging episodes posted to a voter-accessible streaming service by May 31, even if not already shared with the public, will remain Emmy-eligible in the same year as the episodes that have already been shared with the public. For limited series, the entire limited series must be posted to a voter-accessible streaming service by that date.

Additionally, a new rule dictates that performers playing the same character in more than one series may only enter themselves for Emmy consideration for one of those series per year.

To ensure that only experts are determining the nominees and winners for outstanding children's program, voting in both rounds for that award will now be limited to members of the children's programming peer group and animation peer group.

Meanwhile, programs broadcast during primetime hours that "are an extension of or a special produced from a daytime series" will henceforth only be eligible at the Daytime Emmys.

The board is also reining in self-published programming, including shortform — it will now be vetted to determine if the program "is suitably competitive to be placed on the nominee ballot." Moreover, "no individual achievement(s) within the self-published program may be entered unless the program is approved."