Emmys Merge Variety Categories As Part of 2021 Rule Changes

Another new rule will disqualify any movie placed on the Oscars’ members-only viewing platform from Emmy consideration

Last Updated: December 4, 2020 @ 3:58 PM

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The Emmys have merged the Outstanding Variety Talk Series and Outstanding Variety Sketch Series into a single category, Outstanding Variety Series, the Television Academy announced on Friday.

The two categories were separated in 2015, with “Saturday Night Live” winning four of the next six Outstanding Variety Sketch Series Emmys while “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” had five straight Outstanding Variety Talk Series wins. Those two Emmy favorites will now compete against each other in the merged category.

That change was part of a number of 2021 rule changes announced by the TV Academy, which has also merged short-form categories, put anthology series into the Limited Series category and added a category that will recognize individual stuntmen and women.

Another change recognizes that the pandemic has resulted in the Oscars changing their rules to allow movies to qualify even if they premiere on a streaming platform. In an attempt to draw a line between theatrical and television movies, it classifies any film placed on the Oscars’ members-only viewing platform as a theatrical movie, disqualifying it from Emmy consideration.

From the Television Academy press release:

Variety Talk and Variety Sketch Series merged into one category: Outstanding Variety Series

Variety Talk and Variety Sketch Series were previously awarded in one category until they were split in 2015. The categories have been recombined into one category for Outstanding Variety Series.

Categories for individual achievements in Variety Series will continue to include both Variety Talk and Variety Sketch Series.

Short Form Comedy/Drama Series and Short Form Variety Series merged into one category: Outstanding Short Form Comedy, Drama or Variety Series

The two short form program categories, both of which include scripted programming, have been combined into one category for Outstanding Short Form Comedy, Drama or Variety Series.

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 will align storytelling formats throughout the competition. Individual achievements will compete in the relevant categories as defined by the program category.

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. The award will acknowledge actual stunt artists whose performances across the global television medium are integral to storytelling each season. 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 AMPAS 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 approved that maintain the integrity of the Emmy Awards in many Creative Arts categories, by further defining eligibility and qualifications, refining the submissions processes and requiring added pre-entry vetting. In some cases, existing categories have been combined or streamlined. The complete list of awards changes for the 73rd Emmy Awards can be found at Emmys.com/rules/changes.