This year’s 65th Primetime Emmy Awards were supposed to introduce a smaller longform field after the Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences last year voted to consolidate the Best Lead and Supporting actor and actress categories for miniseries and TV movies, reducing the total number of longform acting categories from four to two starting with the 2013 Emmys. But tonight, the TV Academy Board voted to reverse the consolidation, reinstating the longform lead and supporting categories in this year’s competition. The TV Academy cited “the unanticipated resurgence of television miniseries and movies” for its decision to keep the existing number of longform categories. The backtracking is surprising since reducing the those categories was the first major Emmy rule change under TV Academy chairman Bruce Rosenblum.
The consolidation decision had been driven mainly by the dwindling pool of longform programming on TV, especially miniseries, which led to the merging of the best TV movie and miniseries categories in 2011 following two consecutive years of only two best miniseries nominees. But miniseries/limited series have enjoyed a resurgence in the past couple of years, ranking as the most watched cable entertainment telecasts of 2012 (History’s Hatfields & McCoys) and ever (2013 (History’s The Bible). The field also was joined by such hits as Downton Abbey, which started off in the longform category before moving to drama series, and FX’s anthology American Horror Story. And with Fox and FX making a major push in limited-event series, there will be even more contenders joining traditional longorm Emmy frontrunner HBO, which just saw its original movie Behind The Candelabra selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. While the consolidation of the longform acting categories is being nixed, the best longform category (movie/miniseries) remains combined. (more…)