No rest for the campaign-weary. The bruising Oscar campaign ended only last month, but it looks like game on for the Emmys as WGN America wins the award for earliest screener sent to Television Academy members. WGN claims it has sent out 17,000 copies of all 13 episodes of the first season of its one-hour drama series Manhattan. Rather than targeting specific branches, the network is blanketing the entire membership with an elaborate package that includes a bi-fold layout along with four pieces of propaganda art and plenty of critical quotes lauding the freshman series. It is WGN’s first effort at an Emmy campaign, and before voters get bombarded with this stuff, as they always do — I just dumped a large pile from last year’s haul in order to make room for the upcoming Emmy-screener tsunami — it’s smart of the network to try and get ahead of the pack.
The difference between Emmy and Oscar in this regard is that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences refuses to help studios and distributors mail screeners to its membership. The TV Academy, on the other hand, provides its entire voter list to a mailing house, which sends out the campaign packages on behalf of the networks and studios. Oscar consultants have to create their own member address list and hope it hits the target. WGN can rest comfortably that its expensive attempt to lure votes will land in voters’ hands sooner than later. Among shows it will be in competition for one of those seven drama series nominations is Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black, which today lost its appeal, under new Emmy rules, to be once again classified as a comedy and will instead be headed to the much more competitive drama category.
Manhattan is set against the mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb. John Benjamin Hickey and Olivia Williams lead the cast. Sam Shaw created the show, which hails from Tribune Studios, Skydance Productions and Lionsgate.
Primetime Emmy nominations will be announced July 16, and the trophy show will air September 20 on Fox.