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HomeAwardsThe Emmy Machine

The Emmy Machine


When it comes to Hollywood’s well-documented obsession with the pomp and pageantry of awards shows, The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, (ATAS) takes it to the extreme with their Primetime Emmy Awards, which will be given out in September. This year’s crop of nominees, announced late last week, includes 504 nominations in 99 categories, but since the nominations often represent the contributions of several individuals, there are over 1,300 people named, (and the list hasn’t been finalized yet).

And these numbers only represent the Primetime Emmys. Collectively, “the Emmys” in all their various manifestations and forms are churned out by a complicated awards machine, (run by three different organizations), that produces thousands of new nominees in hundreds of categories every year.

In this game, success is measured in the dozens of nominations. CBS led traditional over-the-air broadcasters with 50 Primetime Emmy nominations followed by NBC with 46 and PBS with 43, while HBO led cable networks with a whopping 104 nominations.

HBO’s Mildred Pierce earned 21 nominations, followed by the AMC drama Mad Men with 19, and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire with 18. Even this year’s widely criticized Academy Awards telecast got nine nominations.

Camera operator Hector Ramirez broke his own record (set last year) with his 64th nomination, adding four more nominations to his CV for his work on Dancing With The Stars, The 83rd Annual Academy Awards, The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards and The Kennedy Center Honors. Ramirez holds the record for the most nominations for any single person, (at least in the Primetime awards), leading the runner up, PBS producer Jac Venza by seven noms. Producer Sheila Nevins rounds out the top three with 54 nominations to her credit.

Saturday Night Live set a new record for the most nominations for a single program, which now stands at 142 nominations after adding 16 new noms this year.

While ATAS handles the Primetime awards, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) gives out the Daytime Emmys (71 categories), Sports Emmys (33 categories) and News and Documentary Programming Emmys (42 categories), as well as technology, business, regional and global media awards. (NATAS separated from ATAS in the 1970s but both organizations agreed to share the Emmy statue and trademark).

The News and Documentary Emmy Awards nominations were announced yesterday, (giving CBS an additional 34 nominations).

Meanwhile, the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honors programming produced and originally aired outside the U.S. The organization bestowed a modest 10 International Emmys in New York in November and three International Digital Emmy Awards at MIPTV‘s opening night festivities in Cannes, April 4.

Plus, there are 19 regional chapters of NATAS across the U.S. that each conduct regional Emmy awards presentations honoring locally produced shows.

ATAS acts as the regional chapter for L.A., bestowing the Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards, which will be given out Aug. 6 at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood. The L.A. awards alone represent another 117 Emmy nominations in 42 categories. And don’t forget about the Engineering Emmys, which will be announced in October and awarded at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

Which brings me to my point: I don’t mean to diminish the achievements of any of the nominees. No doubt all of them were hard earned. But observing the Emmy Machine in action begs the question: is there such a thing as awards overload?

I’d love to hear your thoughts over on our forum:

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