It looks as though HBO’s True Detective will not be able to compete as a drama series at the Golden Globe Awards, given new category definitions instituted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Among the rule changes made in advance of the next Globe competition, the “Mini-Series” category is now the “Limited Series” category — to reflect the broader range of formats for television, HFPA explained. And the org has drawn a pretty clear distinction between the “Limited Series” and “Drama Series.”
Limited Series is defined as a program with two or more episodes with a total running time of at least 150 program minutes, that tells “a complete, non-recurring story.” A Drama Series, on the other hand, is defined as a series with an “on-going theme, storyline or main characters,” with continuity of those features, as well as of title and production supervision “from year to year.”
Under those definitions, True Detective quacks like a Limited Series because, as one person with knowledge of the situation explained, a franchise that carries on year-to-year with the same name, but features new characters, new actors, and new storyline each season, is a Limited Series. The HFPA began considering category re-defining after its most recent Globe competition but the new category definitions were formalized last week.
That puts the HFPA ahead of the TV Academy whose chairman/CEO Bruce Rosenblum last month told TV critics the organization probably should take another look at the categories for its Primetime Emmy Awards. He made the comment after TV critics attending TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014 began to flog him and the academy for not doing a better job “policing” which categories series and actors are competing.
Category gaming, as some critics are calling it, has been a hot topic for the upcoming Emmy Awards competition. In the months leading to this year’s Primetime Emmy nominations, a lot of attention was focused on HBO’s decision to enter the eight-episode True Detective as a drama series — also getting industry undies in a bunch was Showtime’s decision to switch Shameless from drama to comedy series after three seasons, and Netflix entering Orange Is the New Black as a comedy after calling it a drama for the Golden Globes. True Detective and Orange Is The New Black each netted 12 noms – strong showings for freshman series.
True Detective pushed out Showtime’s Homeland, which for the first time fell out of the best drama series category it won in 2012. It also blocked CBS’ The Good Wife, despite that show’s strong season, punctuated by the season’s most buzzed about character whacking and a very aggressive Emmy campaign. And NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said his network’s The Blacklist absolutely should have been among this year’s Emmy drama-series contenders, wistfully suggesting/joking the industry should bring back the CableAce Awards. (In the top drama series field, True Detective joined last year’s nominees Breaking Bad, Game Of Thrones, House Of Cards and Mad Men.)
Even more complaints focused on True Detectives‘ impact on the lead actor in a drama series category — where both stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson closed the category off for any other newcomers. James Spader of Blacklist, Michael Sheen of Masters Of Sex, Liev Schreiber of Ray Donovan and Matthew Rhys of The Americans among those failing to make the cut. Also falling victim: Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville, left out after two consecutive nominations.
FX topper John Landgraf spoke eloquently about the Emmy category controversy when True Detective announced it would compete as a drama series earlier this year. “It’s unfair for HBO to get actors that you can’t normally get to do a series who would do a close-ended show and pack the (drama actor) category,” he said. “That is patently unfair to people like Matthew Rhys who signed for seven years.”
While making these category changes, HFPA did NOT heed pleas by TV networks to separate supporting acting competitions, where actors and actresses in supporting roles in drama and comedy series will continue to compete against supporting players in limited series and TV movies.
On the film side, HFPA has decided that foreign language animated motion pictures are now eligible in the Globes’ Best Animated Motion Picture category and not in the Best Foreign Language Film category.