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Deja Vu All Over Again?

Aug 15, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Special to TelevisionWeek

If it appears as though the same series and stars are Emmy-nominated each year, it is because, to a large extent, they are. Statistically, according to John Leverence, VP of awards for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, there is a 60 percent to 80 percent repeat rate from the previous year in the major categories.

Mr. Leverence called this phenomenon “the recurring rubrics” of the awards, but said while the repeat level is high on the Emmys telecast, there is usually much new blood in the technical categories.

“I think one of the reasons it’s the same series every year is because people tend to see programs on the fly-an episode here, an episode there,” said writer-director-producer Lionel Chetwynd, nominated this year for producing the TV movie “Ike: Thunder in June.”

“They remember they liked the first or second season of a particular series, and they continue to vote for it even after it has passed its prime,” he said.

Tom O’Neil, who catalogs the major show business awards through his Goldderby.com Web site, said the issue of repeating nominees is true of all entertainment honors. “It happens at the Oscars but less noticeably, because the films themselves have changed,” he said. “Every year it seems Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson are nominated.”

Mr. Leverence said the Television Academy is taking steps to try to honor new choices. This year, a rule change enabled members to select up to 10 honorees on their initial ballots, before winnowing the number to five. Despite that change, each of the major series categories had only one new contender-“Joan of Arcadia” for drama and “Arrested Development” for comedy.

“There have been discussions about having a category for best new series-kind of a Rookie of the Year,” Mr. Leverence said. “But that opens the problem of suggesting you’re tiering the value of an Emmy-as if the producer in a best series category could say to the winner in a new series category, `Maybe when you grow up you’ll be as good as I am.”‘