TV Academy Clarifies Rules Preventing Oscar and Emmy Double Dipping

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The Television Academy has ruled: No more double dipping. After several years of documentary projects walking the line between the Oscars and Emmys — and finding the loophole to submit for both — the org has ruled that programs won’t be eligible for an Emmy if they’ve been nominated for an Oscar.

The TV Academy made the ruling back in March, but opted to send out the clarification on Thursday after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences relaxed its Oscar eligibility rules, at least this year, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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“The Television Academy supports the recent decision from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to allow feature films, originally intended for theatrical distribution but made available via streaming or video on demand during the current pandemic crisis, to compete at the 2021 Oscars,” the TV Academy wrote in a statement. “Further, the Television Academy ruled in March that effective in 2021, programs that have been nominated for an Oscar will no longer be eligible for the Emmys competition.”

On the scripted side, Emmy and Oscar double-dipping has not been an issue, as the Motion Picture Academy’s theatrical exhibition rule has kept Oscar-contending films from Emmy consideration. But with the blurring of the line this year, the TV Academy felt the need to clarify the situation.

The loophole that has confused the business is how documentary features can still be nominated for, or even win, both an Oscar and an Emmy. For example, last year Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin won the Academy Award for “Free Solo,” and also won an Emmy for directing “Free Solo.”

The TV Academy has argued that most of these projects are commissioned by TV networks — “Free Solo” was a National Geographic film — so it’s on the Oscars to decide whether it wants to award TV projects or not.

“A documentary is often commissioned by a television network or studio that in the ramp up to its television premiere receives promotion on numerous platforms including theatrical appearances, in film festivals and awards competitions,” the org told Variety last year. “But so long as the documentary was conceived, financed and ultimately distributed as a television program, it is Emmy eligible… Why a television documentary is eligible for AMPAS’ feature awards is a question for AMPAS.”

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