Emmy Voting: Then and Now

Jul 10, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences changed its rules for selecting Emmy Award nominees this year in six series and lead acting categories.

The new process puts greater emphasis on potential nominees’ episode submissions.

It also incorporates for the first time in the lead acting categories the opinions of TV professionals who work outside the acting peer group. In other words, in the past, only actors voted for acting awards. Now actors, directors and casting directors vote for actors.

The nomination and award process for outstanding lead actress in a drama series, one of the categories affected by the new selection methods, exemplifies the rule changes. Following are highlights of how the new setup differs from the previous process in that category, as explained by John Leverence, senior VP of the academy.


  • The five nominees were selected by a popular vote taken from the academy’s actor peer group. About 1,400 academy members were sent ballots.

  • Nominees were chosen from a list of all eligible submissions, which was ranked alphabetically and included about 50 names.

  • The five most popular choices became the nominees. They were: Jennifer Garner (ABC’s “Alias”), Mariska Hargitay (NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU”), Patricia Arquette (NBC’s “Medium”), Glenn Close (FX’s “The Shield”) and Frances Conroy (HBO’s “Six Feet Under”).

  • The academy solicited actors who were members of the academy to form a panel of about 60 voting actors. Panel members viewed each nominee’s single submitted episode at home on DVD and voted for a winner.

  • The highest vote-getter from the actors panel, Ms. Arquette, won the Emmy.

    For nominees’ reactions, click here. A complete list of Emmy nominees is available at Emmys.org.


  • Directors and casting directors who were members of the academy joined the actors in the initial popular vote that narrowed the eligible submissions list, which again was ranked alphabetically and included about 50 names. With the nonactors, the number of potential voters for this category grew to about 2,100 people.

  • This time, an extra step was added. The 15 highest vote-getters in the popular selection advanced to the next stage in the nomination process.

  • From there, the academy formed a panel of a few hundred academy members who are actors, directors or casting directors. They viewed single episodes submitted by the 15 candidates over one weekend at the TV academy’s headquarters.

  • The panel was broken up into groups that viewed only a few submissions each. Panelists viewed both actor and actress submissions, but judged only within comedy or drama categories.

  • Panelists graded performances individually with an A, B or C.

  • The top five candidates ranked highest coming out of the panels became the nominees: Kyra Sedgwick (TNT’s “The Closer”), Geena Davis (ABC’s “Commander in Chief”), Mariska Hargitay (NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU”), Frances Conroy (HBO’s “Six Feet Under”) and Allison Janney (NBC’s “The West Wing”).

  • Like last year, at-home voting by a panel of 50 to 75 TV Academy members will produce the winner. This year, that panel will include directors and casting directors in addition to actors.

  • The winner will be announced Aug. 27 during the telecast of the Primetime Emmy Awards on NBC.