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Sorry, ‘SNL’: Variety Talk & Sketch Series Will Now Compete in One Emmys Category

The Television Academy announced its rule changes for the upcoming 73rd Emmy Awards competition on Friday (Dec. 4) — and fans of NBC’s Saturday Night Live may not like the first one. Separate awards for variety talk and variety sketch series have been recombined into one category: outstanding variety series.

Saturday Night Live has won outstanding variety sketch series the last four years running. It was nominated the two years before that, but lost, in turn, to Inside Amy Schumer and Key & Peele.

By contrast, between 1976 and 2014, when SNL had to compete with talk and other variety shows in the overall outstanding variety series category, it won just twice: in its first season, 1976, and again in 1993. It was nominated a total of 19 times in that category in those years — impressive, but nothing like the torrid pace of the past four years.

The TV Academy decided that it would be better if there was more competition, so sketch series will again compete with talk shows, where the competition every year is intense. HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver has won in that category the last five years running, but it’s not for lack of competition. This year, the other nominees were The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

Against competition like that, SNL will be doing good just to be nominated.

Here are other key category changes:

Short-form comedy/drama series and short-form variety series have been merged into one category: outstanding short-form comedy, drama or variety series

Again, the idea is to make this combined category more competitive. Carpool Karaoke: The Series has won the short-form variety series award the last three years.

Music composition for series and music composition for a limited or anthology series, movie or special will have a two-step voting process to determine nominations

The votes of the full music peer group will determine the top 15 vote-getters for music composition for a series and top 10 vote-getters for music composition for a limited or anthology series, movie or special.

These top vote-getters will be viewed by at-home panels made up of volunteers from the music peer group who will vote to pare down the top 15/top 10 to the requisite number of nominees. (The total number of nominees will be based on the number of submissions received in each category.)

A video upload of the achievement will be required at the point the submission is made.

Anthology series eligibility moved to limited series, creating new outstanding limited or anthology series category

Anthology series will now enter the Emmy competition with limited series, resulting in a new category: outstanding limited or anthology series. This year’s winner for outstanding limited series was HBO’s Watchmen.

Previously, an anthology series could enter the competition in either the comedy or drama series categories; or entrants could break up the series into individually entered, stand-alone movies.

New category: Outstanding stunt performance by an individual or team in a drama, comedy, limited series or movie

This new award will recognize stunt performers themselves; previously, there have only been stunt coordination categories. Team entries will be capped at four entrants.

Additional items and clarifications include:

To clarify the distinction between theatrical motion pictures and television movies during the ongoing pandemic, any non-documentary film placed on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ viewing platform for Oscar consideration will be deemed a theatrical motion picture and thus ineligible for the Emmy competition.

Additionally, the previously announced rule will apply: Effective in 2021, any programs that have been nominated for an Oscar are no longer eligible to enter the Primetime Emmy Awards competition.

In regard to children’s programming, as previously confirmed on Nov. 2, the Television Academy and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences have agreed to migrate all potential children’s programming entries previously submitted in the Primetime Emmys to the Daytime Emmys. In addition, children’s animated programs, which target an audience aged 6-12, will also migrate to the Daytime Emmy competition.

As the majority of children’s programming categories have historically been awarded in the Daytime Emmys, the decision eliminates confusion and streamlines the submissions process.

Daytime programming, children’s programming and animation peer groups will continue to vote on excellence in children’s programming for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Daytime Emmys.

Additional changes or clarifications were also approved. The complete list of awards changes for the 73rd Emmy Awards can be found at Emmys.com/rules/changes.

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