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Sorry, Kate Winslet, new rules may complicate that HBO Emmy quest

February 24, 2011 |  3:04 pm

Mildredpierce01 Next month, HBO rolls out its five-part Depression-era miniseries "Mildred Pierce," with Kate Winslet in the title role. Normally, this would be the kind of HBO epic that would dominate come Emmy time, but thanks to a just-announced rule change, Winslet and Co. might find it a little harder to bag a big win this time around.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences revealed Thursday that it would merge the miniseries and made-for-TV movie categories, due, officials said, to a lack of competition.

"The number of entries in the miniseries category over the past six years has steadily declined and provided less than the requisite number needed for a full complement of five nominees," the academy said in a statement. "As a consequence, the Board of Governors has decided to consolidate the miniseries category with made-for-television movies."

That's bad news for premium cable outlets, especially HBO, which has dominated both categories in recent years as broadcasters have all but given up on so-called "long-form" TV fare.

Last year, for example, HBO won an Emmy for miniseries for "The Pacific," the World War II epic produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. And it won for TV movie with "Temple Grandin," starring Claire Danes as the autistic woman who helped reform ranching practices. Under the new rules, "The Pacific" and "Temple Grandin" would have been competing against each other.

An HBO spokeswoman said the network had no comment.

Behind the merger decision are some tricky TV-industry politics. Broadcasters have complained for years that HBO's splashy, movie-star-filled miniseries and movies have led it to dominate the Emmys, despite the fact that the premium cable outlet produces far fewer hours of original programming than a broadcast network. Broadcast executives were pressuring the TV academy to push the miniseries and made-for-TV categories out of the prime-time Emmys entirely -- a controversial proposal because it would probably mean fewer big stars at the ceremony. Academy officials likely accepted the merger idea as a compromise, as they are currently wrangling with network bosses over a new telecast deal. 

What do you think of merging the two categories? Will you watch the Emmys anyway?

RELATED:

Networks and Academy of Television Arts & Sciences gear up for Emmy deal talks

-- Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)

Photo: Kate Winslet in HBO's "Mildred Pierce." Credit: Andrew Schwartz / HBO

 

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