Emmy voting for dummies
A step-by-step guide to how nominees and winners are chosen for Hollywood's most complicated award.
That exasperated confession was surprising considering it came from an exec involved in Emmy campaigning for a major network, but not a shock considering how convoluted the voting process has become for TV's top award.
Here's a simple breakdown, mapped out by timeline:
JUNE 1, 2006 - MAY 31, 2007
During this eligibility period, networks blitz voters with sample campaign DVDs of their best work. Unlike the Oscars, the Emmys distribute the DVDs to TV academy members on behalf of participants. At the Oscars, film studios and producers must campaign directly to voters. The film academy refuses to get involved but does scrutinize the process from the sidelines, acting as a ruthless police officer to make sure general guidelines are followed. There are other key differences to Emmy and Oscar campaigns: Emmy campaigners are permitted to decorate boxes with graphics and quotes from TV critics. Oscar campaigners must ship DVDs in blank cases.
The TV academy charges fees based on how extensive you want to campaign -- to all 13,000 members or just certain branches. One major network budgets $500,000 for a mixture of both kinds of campaigns each year. In addition, it spends millions in advertising.
It also costs money to participate even without a campaign. The Emmy is the only major showbiz award where that's true -- the Oscar, Grammy and Tony are free. The TV academy claims that the fees are necessary to offset the charge of its complex and costly judging process.
If prime-time shows wish to be eligible for Emmys, they must be submitted for nomination. That can cost money ($100 to $400 per entry) if you're not a member of the academy. If you belong to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, or ATAS, you get to submit a few entries for free, then must pay for additional entries.
Participating actors and programs must submit one sample episode of their best work that they wish judges to see when determining nominees. They can switch this later for the last voting stage when an episode sample is scrutinized again.
JUNE 4 - 22
All 13,000 members of the TV academy can vote for the program entries, checking off a paper ballot after studying an eligibility list at the ATAS website. But only actors can vote for actors, directors for directors.
JUNE 30 - JULY 9
Judges screen sample episodes (one per contender) of the Top 10 finalists for best series and acting. Judges screening the series races had to attend panel sessions in L.A. and New York City. Actors could vote at home and mail in the ballots with an affavadit attesting that they've seen everything in a given category (all 10 DVD episode samples). Judges rank all 10 episodes against each other, 1 to 10.
JULY 12 - 18
TV academy accountants take the judges' scores and mix them up on a 50/50 basis with the results of the original popular vote of TV academy members that was used to determine the Top 10 finalists for the pre-noms lists. The five contenders with the highest combined scores become the nominees in each category. This process is different from the method used last year when judges' scores determined the five nominees. The popular vote was merely used to determine the Top 10 finalists.
The current process is only used for the series and acting races. The nominees for all other categories are determined exclusively by the popular vote (academy members checking off a paper ballot without being required to view sample video).
At a news conference held at 5:30 a.m. at the TV academy headquarters in North Hollywood, the nominations will be announced by past nominees Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer") and Jon Cryer ("Two and a Half Men").
AUG. 6 - 31
All winners are determined by a screening process. Voters are limited to participating in four categories each: two in their peer group (acting, let's say) and two program categories (best comedy series and TV miniseries, for example). Typically, the average voter signs up to judge two races.
Judges watch sample DVDs and sign an affidavit attesting that they viewed everything in a given category. They rank entries 1 (best score) to 5.
Actors are judged based upon one sample episode. In the series race, contenders submit 6, which are split into 3 sets of 2 pairs that are distributed randomly to voters. Contenders are permitted to change the episode sample they submitted for the first round of voting.
Creative Arts categories: DVD screeners are shipped out by Aug. 6 and ballots must be returned by Aug. 24.
Telecast categories: DVD screeners are shipped out by Aug. 13 and ballots must be returned by Aug. 31.
AUG. 25 - SEPT. 15
Academy accountants tally the votes. In each category, the contender with the most number 1 votes wins. The other rankings are used only in case of a tie. In other words, the Emmys do not use a weighted ballot, granting contenders partial votes for the number 2 and 3 rankings they receive.
Creative Arts Emmy Awards are held at the Shrine Auditorium.
Emmy Awards ceremony and telecast at the Shrine Auditorium.
To see a more detailed breakdown of Emmy rules and regulations, click here.