WGA Slams TV Academy for Cutting Variety Writing Category From Emmys Telecast ‘Without Any Justification’

“We are strongly advocating to have the category remain in the primetime televised program,” the guild writes

Emmy statue
Emmy statue. (Getty Images)

The WGA has called out the Television Academy for making the “regrettable decision” to cut the “Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series/Special” category from the Primeimte Emmy Awards telecast.

“[The Television Academy] did this without any justification or defensible reason,” several members of the guild’s leadership — including WGA West President Meredith Stiehm and WGA West board member Adam Conover — wrote in an email to its members obtained by TheWrap. “The Guild has been in touch with the Academy to convey our objection to this decision, and we are strongly advocating to have the category remain in the primetime televised program on January 15, 2024.”

The guild’s message comes weeks after news of the category’s removal from Fox’s primetime telecast arrived when the Television Academy unveiled the categories slated to be presented at 75th Primetime Emmy Awards. While the winner of the “Outstanding Variety Special (Live)” will be presented at the main Emmys ceremony, the nominees for “Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series/Special” will be recognized at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, which takes place a week earlier on Sunday, Jan. 7.

The Television Academy declined to comment on the WGA’s statement.

The guild’s memo noted that the move not only impacts this year’s writers of Emmy-nominated shows, but also “devalues our profession as a whole,” adding that the “Television Academy is essentially ignoring how writing serves as the foundation for excellence in television.”

“We all know how many writers it takes to create these incredible programs, and that’s exactly the point: the shows we write for are watched, loved, shared — and, yes, even nominated for awards — because of our writing,” the memo added. “And if the Television Academy can make this decision without any justification, we worry that it could set a precedent for them to remove other writing categories in the years to come.”

The letter also pointed to the guild’s recent labor dispute — which culminated in 148-day strike from early May to late September — as a motivating force to advocate for writers across the entertainment industry. “We didn’t spend months on strike, fighting to receive the recognition we deserve for the work we help create, only to be pushed to the sidelines when it comes time to do exactly that,” the memo read.

In the meantime, the message encouraged WGA members to express their feelings about the decision on social media by urging the Television Academy to keep the category on the air.

In addition to Stiehm and Conover, the letter was signed by WGA East President Lisa Takeuchi Cullen and WGA East leaders Erica Saleh and Christopher Kyle, WGA West leaders Michele Mulroney and Betsy Thomas, as well as WGA East comedy-variety council members Kaitlin Fontana, Josh Gondelman, Liz Hynes, Greg Iwinski, Zhubin Parang and Sasha Stewart.

This year’s nominees for “Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special” include “Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter and Love,” “Chris Rock: Selective Outrage,” “John Mulaney: Baby J,” “Wanda Sykes: I’m An Entertainer” and “Would It Kill You to Laugh? Starring Kate Berlant & John Early.”

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