Warner Bros Television Group president Bruce Rosenblum is in the midst of his first Emmy campaign as chairman of the TV Academy, a post he took over in January that makes him the first top Hollywood player in two decades to lead the organization. His first major TV appearance as TV Academy chief was at the Emmy nominations announcement last month where he shared the stage with pajama-clad Primetime Emmy Awards host Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel’s stint was a departure from tradition (forced by an unexpected travel complications for Nick Offerman), just like Rosenblum is looking to change things up at the TV Academy.
Bruce Rosenblum: We are in the early stages of reinventing the Academy. We were successful in attracting high-level executives to the executive committee, we have some new governors, and the old faces at the Academy have worked extremely well with the new faces. We thought about adding voices from places like Hulu (CEO Jason Kilar) and producers who have experience with different ways of storytelling (Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun). On the other hand, you have one of the premiere writers in Ryan Murphy, and both (Sony TV’s) Steve Mosko and (20th TV’s) Dana Walden have been critical in adding a voice to ways we can implement things at the Academy.
AwardsLine: What are the things you want to implement?
Rosenblum: To be relevant year ’round, beyond Emmy season, to provide more value to our members. We’re working toward a more inclusive Academy that acknowledges the expansion of the television industry not just with the traditional networks and studios but also the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.
AwardsLine: Those digital players don’t yet produce a lot of content that is recognizable by the Academy. How will they be incorporated?
Rosenblum: What they have is the eligibility to be recognized for Emmys going forward. Also, we want the above- and below-the-line talent working on those platforms be part of what we do at the Academy. Our peer groups have already been inclusive of interactive and new media representatives over the last few years. We’re all hopeful we will see more active participation in Academy’s day-to-day activities.
AwardsLine: There already have been rule changes made on your watch, combining the longform acting categories. Will there be more changes?
Rosenblum: One of the great things we do is recognize excellence in storytelling. What has existed is a process for nomination that works very well. You can always tweak that process to make it more efficient and hopefully provide better results. But it’s been a lot of fun. We are at a moment in time when there is so much great television content. What is the biggest challenge is fitting all of the great programming into the categories with the slots assigned.
AwardsLine: The movie/miniseries nominations have had people talking about the Academy’s decision to include such programs as American Horror Story and Missing. Have you faced criticism over that?
Rosenblum: It’s fair to say the awards committee takes a careful look (at all submissions). I have not heard criticism over the nominations in (the top longform) category. The creativity there is very strong this year.
AwardsLine: Just before you got elected, your predecessor closed a new eight-year “wheel deal” with the broadcast networks, which had expressed displeasure of the rising dominance of cable in some Emmy categories. Then at this year’s Emmys nominations, the first under the new deal, no broadcast series made it into the best drama category. Have the broadcast nets expressed concern?
Rosenblum: John Shafner signed a longterm deal, so renegotiations won’t come during my term. The overall number of nominees from broadcast networks this year actually exceeded the number from last year. We have not heard any criticism from the broadcast networks since the nominations came out.
AwardsLine: Going in, many people warned you of the infamous behind-the-scenes politics at the TV Academy. How have you been dealing with that?
Rosenblum: One of most surprising things is the complete lack of politics and the clear sense that everyone is in this together. I’m having a really good time. I’m encouraged by the new the executive board of governors–I think these are positive changes that move the organization forward.