Emmy Analysis: Few Surprises, A Glut Of Actors From The Same Shows, And Why The Academy Needs To Overhaul Television Movie

This is another area where the Academy could possibly reach out , as they did in the documentary categories, to help define and maybe redefine what a televison movie really is. Only Barry Levinson's harrowing The Survivor belongs here, and that was actually a premiere at last Fall's Toronto International Film Festival as an actual theatrical movie. Just witness this year's thin nominations including Disney +'s Chip  'n' Dale: Rescue Rangers, along with retreads from cancelled series like Ray Donovan (The Movie!), Zoey's Extraordinary Christmas, and Reno 911!: The Hunt For QAnon. It was bought by HBO and became a TV Movie because of that distinction. I asked Scherma about it. This group just doesn't cut it. One thing that really struck me is how pathetic the Television Movie category seems, at one time the most prestigious at the Emmys , but it has really gone to the dogs. Streamers are flooding the marketplace with "movies" but they aren't being entered here, probably because the Amazons and Netflix's of the world harbor Oscar dreams or have convinced the filmmakers they will treat them only as theatrical style films, eschewing the label of "tv movie". This is a category long overdue for a reexamination by the Academy. Or rather the chipmunks.
You know, sometimes people are watching these shows that we're talking about, and of course they're getting nominated because so many people are watching them, yeah." "I think we're getting a range of content when you look at the shows that have been nominated. "You know, we've asked our members to just sort of pick the shows that they've watched and not sort of what they've heard about so please just vote on the shows that you've watched, and as we know, there's a lot of shows to watch. And you look at that, and I think, you know, there are so many great performances out there right now," said Scherma.
Popular tv staples like Yellowstone, NCIS, anything from Dick Wolf, were again completely  ignored. Maisel, Succession, Better Call Saul, Atlanta, What We Do In The Shadows etc. We still heard many of the same familiar names leading the charge, some from last year like Ted Lasso, Hacks, Saturday Night Live and others. And then thrown into the mix were some actual newcomers who managed to break through like Yellowjackets, Severance, Only Murders In The Building, the rare foreign language show Squid Game,  and the even rarer (these days) broadcast network show, ABC's Abbott Elementary. Actually when I say there were no real surprises I have to mention I was a bit shocked that the Academy almost completely (except for a song) ignored the final season of This Is Us which my colleague Dominic Patten thought might win the whole thing. I was also dismayed that ABC's black'ish was given no love, apart from hair styling and costume nods, in its final year, not even for stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross who have been nominated nearly every season. In terms of surprises there were actually  very few of them at the Emmy nomination announcement this morning. Ironically the ONLY Emmy that show won in its eight years was a single one for hair styling. Some back for another round from past seasons like Barry, Euphoria, The Marvelous Mrs. Sad.
Still you can't argue with this list for the most part, particularly in the Limited Series category which really does need to be expanded much like the Academy did for Drama and Comedy series. The showings of superior efforts like The White Lotus , Dopesick, Pam And Tommy, The Dropout, among others was heartening, but I don't understand how voters could ignore that cast of the Starz series Gaslit, particularly Julia Roberts who was so great as Martha Mitchell. Say what?
Not much left for anyone else this year in those categories, eh? If you are in that show welcome to the Emmys. Agents are dialing up producers of those shows right now to get their clients booked for next season. It is an age old problem with Emmys which tends to nominate favorites and familiar names year after year. But really what these nominations say by and large is that if you are tied to a show voters are clearly watching then the tide will bring you right in with it. Once you are in the club, it is hard to get out, again highlightling why past Emmy nominated favored shows like This Is Us and black'ish  were so surprisingly thrown to the curb on their last at-bat. Squid Game impressively delivered five nominations to its actors all working in the Korean language, a first. You can pour over these nominations and come up with all kinds of complaints depending on where you stand, but the fact is it is simply impossible for the 20,000 plus voters in the Television Academy to see everything, or even a decent sampling. Wow. An astounding 8 actors from Mike White's brilliant The White Lotus dominate the Supporting Categories for Limited Series with another 5 from Dopesick picking up most of the other available slots in Supporting Limited Series. Even breakthrough first season comedies like Abbott Elementary and Only Murders In The Building with four acting contenders each are showing the value of being in a show that manages to conquer the content clutter. What else can explain a whopping 20 nominations again for Lasso including 10, count 'em , 10 acting nominations. Seven actors from Hacks got nominated, including a dominant five in the guest acting categories for comedy.
I posed the question to TV Academy Chairman and CEO Frank Scherma and President and COO Maury McIntyre when I spoke with them this morning. Is there anything the Television Academy can do to change this dynamic in order to help deserving contenders get a shot? I am sure all these performers are deserving but what it says to me is voters are watching a limited number of shows and checking off just about every name on their ballot that has something to do with those programs, particularly in acting categories.
Actually that could be a way to honor shows with this level of acting, and maybe also remind voters to spread the wealth around a little more in the individual categories. They both laughed when I suggested that maybe, like the SAG Awards, it is time to add Ensemble Acting categories. But who knows?
"But those ensembles really are kind of attracting a lot of attention these days." I think you see the same thing, kind of what's happened with The White Lotus this year, whereas I do still think you're gonna see breakouts, " he said mentioning Jean Smart in Hacks last year. And that's when you're seeing some of these (nominations). Added McIntyre: "It's interesting to see so many shows, with such phenomenal ensembles that we are seeing shows that just are kind of built around their ensembles. Succession as an ensemble show, which has just a lot of powerhouse actors and so they're all playing off each other and I think they're getting the support of each other. In that way.
No doubt if there was a partridge in a pear tree in the show it would have been nominated too. But nothing compares to HBO's Drama Series juggernaut Succession which racked up a leading 25 nominations in its third season, 14 of them going to its actors. 14!!!! That is 2 lead actors, 3 Supporting Actors, 2 Supporting Actresses, 4 Guest Actors, and 3 Guest Actresses.
I think we have to get a little more involved in how we do define those?,"  he said and I second that idea! Yeah and that's something Maury and I have been talking about. How do we define what is a theatrical movie? How do we define what is a television movie? "It's the definition of what are we calling a television movie and theatrical movie? And, you know, we've even talked to the Motion Picture Academy about it, Again, as television keeps changing how do we define these actual things? A lot of times, you know, people that are distributing them are making those decisions.
As they say in TV, stay tuned.” /> Lots to talk about with the Emmys in phase two of the campaign until the Emmys finally arrive on NBC September 12, exactly two months from today.

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