Emmy Awards Rules Get a Makeover

Emmy officials are revamping their awards rules for the second time in two years, trying to give newcomers a better chance against the long-running series and familiar stars that can monopolize the annual TV awards show.

Under the revised approach, blue-ribbon panels will play an instrumental role in determining the nominees in the categories of drama and comedy series and lead actors and actresses in the series.

"This new voting initiative hits the issue of a narrow nominations' process head-on and significantly increases the potential for the widest and most diverse selection of nominees possible," TV academy chairman Dick Askin said in a statement Tuesday.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' board of governors implemented changes in 2004 in a similar bid to freshen the competition. Last year, ABC's freshman series "Lost" was named best drama.

With the new rules, panels will pick the five nominees for comedy and drama series from 10 front-runners as decided by a vote of the academy's general membership. Videotapes of shows will be used by panelists to make their decisions.

Previously, leading vote-getters in the general vote were declared the final nominees.

An additional change will be implemented in the comedy and drama series acting nominations. The performers who have made the first pass at picking the nominees will be joined by directors and casting executives.

Members of those two groups also will have the chance to join the panels choosing the final nominees from among the top vote-getters — 15, in this instance — in each of the acting categories.

The approach, approved last week by academy governors, "brings a new eclecticism" to the nomination process, said awards director John Leverence.

Unlike the Academy Awards, which recognize a new crop of films each year, the Emmys are prone to fall into a rerun slump because shows are eligible as long as they air original episodes in the Emmy calendar year.

The result: winning streaks like that of NBC's White House drama "The West Wing," which captured four consecutive best-drama awards. Meanwhile, critics says, worthy shows that are less mainstream or air on smaller networks, such as WB's "Gilmore Girls," have been shut out.