However, there's a glitch — and a major sacrifice the show must now make. Last year, due to a quirk in the Emmy rules, "Family Guy" was able to gamble on nabbing a bid for best comedy without abandoning the separate race for best animated program. The latter category permits ongoing series to compete against stand-alone specials. Since "Family Guy" had a notable special — its celebrated "Star Wars" spoof titled "Blue Harvest" — it could enter that for best animated program (it lost to "South Park's" Imaginationland") while also entering "Family Guy" for best comedy series ("30 Rock" won). "Family Guy" will not be eligible in the race for best animated program this year.
"Family Guy" didn't get nominated for best laffer last year, but it came close. It was one of the top 10 semi-finalists after a popular vote of the TV academy's 13,000 members. There won't be a semi-finalist run-off this year since judging panels will no longer determine nominees after screening sample episodes, but the number of nominees will be increased to six or seven from the usual five, thus giving "Family Guy" some Emmy hope.
But perhaps it's only slim hope. Obviously, there's a bias against animated fare at the Emmys just like the Oscars, which recently had to create a separate category for best animated feature after repeated, embarrassing snubs in the best picture race. Only one animated film has ever been nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards: "Beauty and the Beast" (1991). At the Emmys, only one animated show has ever been nominated for best comedy or drama series: "The Flintstones" (1961). Alas, "The Jack Benny Show" got the last laugh back then.
Not too long ago "The Simpsons" tried what "Family Guy" is attempting. After sweeping the animation race in the early 1990s, "The Simpsons" moved over to compete in the comedy category, but got shut out in 1993 and 1994. Then frustrated producers gave up in 1995 and moved back to animation.
Lucky for "Family Guy," the show will be able to switch back to the animation race later, if it chooses. That's surprising, actually, considering a new rule change enforcing a "lockdown" once a live-action series declares itself to be a drama or comedy series. From now on, those shows cannot switch categories. TV academy awards chief John Leverence informs Gold Derby that the new rule will not apply to "Family Guy."
One of the reasons "Family Guy" wanted to bow out of the Emmy animation race was because it's never won. Twice it lost to "The Simpsons," once to "South Park." Two years ago, it wasn't even nominated. Frustrated producers gambled on trying to nab noms for both animated program and comedy series last year and pulled off a losing bid for best animated show as a consolation prize when "Family Guy" narrowly got shut out of the comedy lineup.
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