"Emmy Noms Leaked" screams the headline in the New York Post, adding that a source reveals the TV academy is "furious" over The Envelope's reports on the Top 10 pre-nomination finalists for best comedy and drama series. Our reports were flashed worldwide on the Associated Press and Reuters news wires over the past few days, plus the Hollywood Reporter, TV Guide, TV Guide Canada, E! Online, etc. Mediabistro's L.A. Fishbowl gets huzzahs for being the first outlet to pick up our scoop! (Tx, Fishbowl!)
Then there was this saucy riff at Defamer.com: "LAT Gold Derby blogger Tom O'Neil spent some time this weekend kidnapping TV Academy voters as they left a Beverly Hills Hilton screening of awards candidates, then waterboarding them in the back of a van until they begged their cruel interrogator to exclusively take down the names of the ten contenders that will soon be narrowed down to a mere five nominees. (You've never seen a man truly suffer until he's spent ten minutes trying to cough the words 'Grey's Anatomy' through excruciatingly waterlogged lungs.)"
All I can add: thank gawd TMZ.com didn't catch me on video!
I am extremely proud of our journalistic accomplishment and grateful to the many judges who volunteered crucial info to our reports. After all, these are just reports — we've been careful, ahem, to note that this info is unofficial and unverified. Also, that we have not encouraged judges to break any confidentiality agreement they may have made with ATAS.
But so many judges eagerly contacted us because they believe strongly — as we do, and virtually every TV industry pro and Emmy participant I know — that the Top 10 lists should be made public. Nay, must be disclosed.
A paragraph in the Hollywood Reporter's article about our "leak" begs quotation here: "At least one network source was pleased that the lists of finalists were leaked. The source, who did not wish to be identified, said the academy should make it a policy to start announcing the top 10 finalists on its own every year."
Right now the TV academy is radically overhauling its voting process every year, trying to set things right and we applaud them for it. But I remind its leaders that ATAS is an ACADEMY, which means it's supposed to be an open forum inviting clashing opinion and close study. Open up the voting process! Let's see it work! What's to hide? And why? The TV industry is now a multi-channel universe. Let's see how many of the lower-rated contenders actually came close to nabbing nominations.
Let's say, for example, "Dexter" and "Weeds" don't end up with nominations for best drama and comedy series after landing on those early pre-nom lists. Isn't it wonderful for Showtime to know that its edgy, critically acclaimed programs were seriously considered?
Here's what Rich Licata, Showtime's EVP of corporate communications, has to say on this subject: "After all the DVD packaging, and all of the advertising strategies, and all of the Emmy prognostication by journalists and industry wags it would be somewhat of a relief to know who the 10 finalists are — especially with the Academy's new voting policy promising to breathe important new life into the Emmy derby. Let's share the good news. God knows we wait long enough to hear it."
I've heard similar views from Emmy campaign chiefs at HBO, FX and many, many other networks. One of them, by the way, believes ATAS has the most sinister, selfish reasons for wanting the pre-noms hushed up.
"When you get a peek at the Top 10 lists, the corruption of the Emmy voting process is even more obvious than it is when you just study the nominees," he says. "The lists are dominated by the four networks that telecast the Emmy ceremony. HBO and Showtime only break through because of blitzkrieg campaigning. If you understand how bloc voting works, you can see it blatantly in the Top 10 lists. That's why ATAS wants to hide them!"
Journalists who cover this Emmy beat demand that ATAS release the info freely, too. Here's the view of Ray Richmond of the Hollywood Reporter: "Without doubt the TV Academy should be releasing the names of the finalists if only because there is no explainable reason not to. Why is this considered confidential information? The only conclusion is that ATAS has something to hide. This is also massively disrespectful of the process and contemptuous of those who gave a weekend of their time to serve as judges."
Let ATAS be "furious" at me personally, I say. That's fine. I invoke the spirit of the academy's founder Syd Cassyd, who I knew well over many years while compiling my book on Emmy history. Often he'd express shrieking fury at ATAS leaders whenever they'd try to pull something like this — hush up anything, anything at all.
"We created an academy, damn it!" Syd would fume, banging a fist on a tabletop. "Open the doors! Let everybody see what's going on and express their passionate opinions about it." Anybody who knew Syd knows what I'm saying is true.
Many current academy leaders feel the same way, too. Over the past week, I've received cheering emails and phone calls from many insiders and even a past president. Ditto from more than 100 Emmy participants.
Number of complaining emails and phone calls I've received: 1.
That came from someone totally confused and misinformed about what's going on — she could not really articulate a sensible objection. I think she's just upset that a few bureaucrats at the academy are upset.