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Animation TV Executives File Complaint Over ‘Community’ Emmy Eligibility

More than 50 executive producers and writers of animated shows, including Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy and Al Jean of The Simpsons have registered a complaint with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences over their inability to submit animated scripts in non-animated writing categories at the Primetime Emmy Awards. The letter, sent to the TV Academy and its chair, Bruce Rosenblum, reacts to the presence of NBC sitcom Community in two animated Emmy categories for the 2012 awards.

Community is typically a live-action show, but one of the constituents of its three-part season three finale (“Digital Estate Planning”) was largely animated and earned a spot in the animated program competition. In addition, an animated web series using Community‘s characters has been placed in contention for a short-form animated award. In addition to the letter, Jean told reporters, “what they are doing with Community is what we said they should do all along [for animated series]. Why not? If a writer of an animated program wants to submit for a writing Emmy, great. And if it’s not good enough, it won’t win.” 

“We have been told that animated program writers could not also submit their work for writing Emmys, for reasons we never understood, but supposedly pertaining to the purity of the branches,” said Jean. “This is why no one was more startled than we when last year Community was able to submit for comedy series, writing and animated program, in the face of everything we had been told for two decades. We were told that, for some reason, a one-time waiver was granted.” The writers added, “Imagine our surprise when this year we see Community once again eligible for comedy series, writing, animated program, and short-form animated program. This letter is in no way intended to be a slight on the terrific show Community but a request from us to enjoy the very same rights they now do. Clearly the Academy’s ban on submitting in multiple categories is being enforced in an arbitrary and unfair manner.”

The writers concluded the letter by requesting animated programs be able to submit “for both animation and comedy series as well as in the writing category.” Jean added, “That’s all we’ve ever asked for 20 years. In fact, as an animation branch member, I can’t even vote in the writing category, and I’ve been a writer for 30 years.” 

Representatives of the TV Academy have yet to comment on the issue.

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