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Our Emmy scoop makes The Envelope NOTORIOUS

July 6, 2007 | 10:02 am

"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 Notorious1_2few 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 "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 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.

The comments to this entry are closed.


Good on ya Tom. As the only serious journalist to study the history of awards shows in Hollywood and their importance to the industry, I know you know your stuff, probably better than anyone alive today. Congrats for being so upfront with your opinion and for getting other influential people within the industry to express their true feelings on the subject to you. As the posts on the message board for the lists show, your readers are outraged by the blatant exclusion of quality television series such as genre shows like Battlestar Galactica or Nip/Tuck, the most challenging show on television besides The Wire, The Shield, or even Veronica Mars, who might have lived longer had Emmy actually deigned to consider a CW show for inclusion in their hallowed halls. It seems like they consider one or two shows from HBO (because it's so darn full of good stuff they can't only nominate one), one from each of the other cable networks (though The L Word is the most engaging drama on Showtime and the heir to Sex and the City's sexually empowered females, it's talented and risk-taking regulars and guest stars are ignored), and then split the other six between the big four.

I think it also shows a disconnect between ATAS and the general public, as if the Academy doesn't care what shows people are devoted to, which is a better indicator of quality rather than ratings, which often seems to influence their choices; times have changed and ratings alone are not enough to gauge popular culture's tastes anymore. Emmy also needs to stop trippin' on the same shows year after year and instead look at every year as a blank slate, see what excelled that year instead of assuming that early favorites are as good as they used to be or that older shows haven't improved considerably over time; I have a theory that David Chase intentionally left such big breaks between the last few seasons of The Sopranos because he wanted to allow other worthy shows to gain the recognition they deserved (Edie Falco and James Gandolfini practically looked embarrased the last time they picked up their latest Emmy, as if they were highschoolers tired of winning Most Popular, and ready to let other deserving colleagues receive their share of the accolades).

There also seems to be a certain prejudice against genre shows in general, sometimes the only place in the media one can find reflections on such relevant themes as war, torture, genocide, and terrorism in a context that in more "realistic" shows would be too uncomfortable (Nip/Tuck and Veronica Mars could both be viewed as fitting in the "noir" genre and excluded for this reason). It seems if a show is not either a straight Drama or a Comedy, Emmy just doesn't bother.

Keep it up Tom, and let's give these Awards the meaning they were intended to have rather than the cliquey, snobby tone they taken on.

Congrats Tom...Hopefully this will prompt the Academy to include us all in this process. Think of the buzz being generated just by the "unconfirmed" reports of who is pre-nominated. The public can become more invested in the process by being involved in it. That can only lead to MORE buzz, MORE excitement and ultimately, higher ratings during the telecast...It's out of the box, but it could breathe new life into the Emmys.

That's awesome, Tom! Congrats on the added coverage in the "old media"! :)



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