Writers And Producers Of Popular Animated Series Protesting Emmy Nomination Rules

Peter Griffin

The writers and producers of such popular animated shows as The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Futurama aren't happy today, and they have taken their protest directly to the Emmy voting academy. Why are these usually very funny folks so up in arms? One word: Community. The critically beloved, but ratings challenged NBC comedy was deemed eligible to be nominated in the various Best Animated Program categories for its animated episode Digital Estate Planning, which features the characters interacting in an old-school 8-bit videogame environment.

The writers' beef here is a bit technical and complicated, but I'll try to sum it up as simply as I can. While an animated series itself can choose to compete against live-action shows in the main Best Comedy Series category, the writers themselves don't share that privilege. They can only compete in the Best Writing in an Animated Series category. The aforementioned group of writers/producers (comprised of over 50 people from multiple shows) thinks it's unfair that Community's animated episode can be nominated for both Best Writing in a Comedy Series and Best Writing in an Animated Program, while they can only compete with other animated shows. Confused yet? I know I was when trying to figure out how to write this out.

Anyway, here's the complaint in its entirety:

"To Whom It May Concern:

Television Academy

We the undersigned animation showrunners and writers desire to address what we have regarded as a pernicious and unfair ruling by the Academy for the past 20 years, which we believe now, more than ever, should be redressed.

We have been told that animated program writers could not also submit their work for writing Emmys, for reasons we never understood, but supposedly pertaining to the purity of the branches.

This is why no one was more startled than we when last year “Community” was able to submit for comedy series, writing, and animated program, in the face of everything we had been told for two decades.  We were told that for some reason, a one-time waiver was granted.

Imagine our surprise when this year we see “Community” once again eligible for comedy series, writing, animated program, and short-form animated program.  This letter is in no way intended to be a slight on the terrific show “Community” but a request from us to enjoy the very same rights they now do.  Clearly the Academy’s ban on submitting in multiple categories is being enforced in an arbitrary and unfair manner.  We therefore request that we also be able to submit our programs for both animation and comedy series as well as in the writing category.


Richard Appel
Mike Barker
Kit Boss
James L. Brooks
Stewart Burns
Steve Callaghan
Brett Cawley
Joe Chandler
David X. Cohen
Joel Cohen
Jim Dautrieve
John Frink
Tom Gammill
Valentina Garza
Stephanie Gillis
David A. Goodman
Dan Greaney
Matt Groening
Michael Henry
Mark Hentemann
Eric Horsted
Al Jean
Artie Johann
Stephen Kane
Ken Keeler
Brian Kelley
Jon Kern
Rob LaZebnik
Tim Long
Robert Maitia
Seth MacFarlane
Steve Marmel
Ian Maxtone-Graham
Patrick Meighan
Wendy Molyneux
Bill Odenkirk
Carolyn Omine
Don Payne
Michael Price
Eric Rogers
Michael Rowe
Jon Schroeder
Brian Scully
Mike Scully
Matt Selman
Rick Singer
Patric M. Verrone
Ali Waller
Josh Weinstein
Matt Weitzman
Jeff Westbrook
Marc Wilmore"

You may notice the conspicuous absence of South Park writers/producers Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who haven't publicly commented on the matter as of yet.

Here's the response from the TV Academy:

"It is a general rule of the Emmy competition that producers, writers and directors enter separately in their own program or individual achievement categories, e.g., comedy series writers enter the Writing for a Comedy Series category, drama series directors enter the Directing for a Drama Series category, etc.

Eligibility in animation programming is an exception to this general rule, because the animation producers, writers and directors enter the Animated Program category together as a team.  There is no separate category for the individual achievements of animation writing and directing. (However, if an animated series opts to enter in Comedy Series rather than Animated Program category, then the individual achievement categories are open to them, e.g., writers can enter Writing for a Comedy Series category.)

“Community” is a Comedy Series that for the last two years has included an animated “special episode.”  The competition includes a rule that a special episode can enter as a stand-alone special, “if it involved a significant and substantive format change throughout e.g. from whole-episode live action to whole-episode animation.” The “Community” producers followed that rule when they entered the producer-writer-director team for the animated episode in the Animation category and the regular, live-action episodes in the Comedy Series program and Comedy Series individual achievement categories."

I'm still a bit confused after reading all that, but it's pretty much a nice way of telling the animation writers to get over it.

Do you think the writers have a valid complaint, or is the Emmy Academy in the right in this case?

P.S. Are the rules for Emmy eligibility way too complicated? (Spoiler alert: Yes.)


- The Emmy Awards
- Futurama
- Family Guy
- The Simpsons

Written by: msd85
Jun 19th, 2012, 2:21 pm


Message Posted On Jul 13th, 2012, 8:24 pm
Maybe we'll see South Park throw an entry in as protest next year with S16E06 "I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining". It would not surprise me if Trey Parker and Matt Stone turned part of this episode into live-action, just to rock the boat a little and mess with the Emmys.

Level 1 (67%)
Points: 1.2
Since: 02/Jan/09
Message Posted On Jun 20th, 2012, 8:31 pm

I thought you did a good job of explaining the controversy. And, yes, the Emmy rules are convoluted. They were obviously written by lawyers. But NBC's lawyers earned their fee that week when they used it to Community's advantage.

Luckily for both sides, I'm impartial, and this has been brought to my attention. I will now rule on what should and shouldn't happen. I expect both parties to submit to my ruling, and act upon -- pardon the pun -- my decision.

As the article stated, Community was within it's rights to "apply" for a nomination. And I understand why they did that. Their show's struggling, so the more positive the "PR", the better for them. However, if I were the "ruling body" of the Emmy committee, I'd close this loophold. It's gimmicky, for one thing. Isn't the point of the Emmys to reward the best in television, along with having the added attention award shows receive? Then why reward a show just because it shot a single episode a little differently? Notice the rules don't specify quality.

I have to "rule" in favor of the animated TV show people. If it weren't for Homer Simpson, and Peter Griffin, Fox network would have folded years ago. Yet, those two uncomplaining superstars and devoted family men have never, to my knowledge, even received an nomination for best actor in a comedy! I really like Community. I think it's a great show. And, what's there not to like about Amy Poehler? She's funny, smart, odd and cute. My four favorite characteristics for anyone on and off TV. But as great as she is, she's not any more talented than Family Guy's Roger Smith. As far as I'm concerned whomever is nominated in the comedy categories this year should breath a sigh of relief that the Emmy committee relegates all the animated shows and characters to their own limited categories.

Community has enough opportunities to congratulate and publicize itself without potentially usurping what little official glory and credit great shows like American Dad, Family Guy, The Simpsons, etc., deserve. Emmy officials, either lose this dumb loophole, or expand categories for these great and competitive animated TV shows.


Level 2 (40%)
Points: 4.4
Since: 20/Apr/08
Message Posted On Jun 20th, 2012, 3:29 am

Obviously, the animated show producers need to make special live action episodes and turn this mother around.

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