UPDATE, 5:48 PM: The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences issued a statement in responsed to today’s letter from The Simpsons’ Al Jean, Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane and 50 other animation producers and writers over Community’s eligibility in Emmy animation categories.

It is a general rule of the Emmy competition that producers, writers and directors enter separately in their own program or individual achievement categories, e.g., comedy series writers enter the Writing for a Comedy Series category, drama series directors enter the Directing for a Drama Series category, etc.

Eligibility in animation programming is an exception to this general rule, because the animation producers, writers and directors enter the Animated Program category together as a team.  There is no separate category for the individual achievements of animation writing and directing.   (However, if an animated series opts to enter in Comedy Series rather than Animated Program category, then the individual achievement categories are open to them, e.g., writers can enter Writing for a Comedy Series category.)

“Community” is a Comedy Series that for the last two years has included an animated “special episode.”  The competition includes a rule that a special episode can enter as a stand-alone special, “if it involved a significant and substantive format change throughout e.g. from whole-episode live action to whole-episode animation.”   The “Community” producers followed that rule when they entered the producer-writer-director team for the animated episode in the Animation category and the regular, live-action episodes in the Comedy Series program and Comedy Series individual achievement categories.

PREVIOUS, 4:42 PM: Some of Hollywood’s leading animation showrunners are mad as hell at the TV Academy, and today they let them know about it. “Why should there be one rule for Community and another for Family Guy?” says The Simpsons producer Al Jean. “We just want equal treatment.” Written by Jean, the animation gang sent a letter today chastising the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for letting the NBC series be eligible “once again” for consideration in the comedy series, writing, animated program, and short-form animated program categories. Animated shows are not eligible for consideration in non-animated writing categories. Community is a non-animated show but had an episode last season that was animated and has an animated web series featuring the show’s characters.

“I don’t expect them to change the rules this year, but I hope that next year everyone would be able to do what Community did this year,” says Jean. The letter (see below) was signed by Jean and 51 others, including Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Simpsons producer James L. Brooks, American Dad and Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane and Futurama’s David X. Cohen. Jean put the letter together last week before sending it around to his fellow animation showrunners. Here’s the letter sent to TV Academy chair Bruce Rosenblum:

To Whom It May Concern:

Television Academy

We the undersigned animation showrunners and writers desire to address what we have regarded as a pernicious and unfair ruling by the Academy for the past 20 years, which we believe now, more than ever, should be redressed.

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.

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.

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.  We therefore request that we also be able to submit our programs for both animation and comedy series as well as in the writing category.

Respectfully,

Richard Appel, Mike Barker, Kit Boss, James L. Brooks, Stewart Burns, Steve Callaghan, Brett Cawley, Joe Chandler, David X. Cohen, Joel Cohen, Jim Dautrieve, John Frink, Tom Gammill, Valentina Garza, Stephanie Gillis, David A. Goodman, Dan Greaney, Matt Groening, Michael Henry, Mark Hentemann, Eric Horsted, Al Jean, Artie Johann, Stephen Kane, Ken Keeler, Brian Kelley, Jon Kern, Rob LaZebnik, Tim Long, Robert Maitia, Seth MacFarlane, Steve Marmel, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Patrick Meighan, Wendy Molyneux, Bill Odenkirk, Carolyn Omine, Don Payne, Michael Price, Eric Rogers, Michael Rowe, Jon Schroeder, Brian Scully, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, Rick Singer, Patric M. Verrone, Ali Waller, Josh Weinstein, Matt Weitzman, Jeff Westbrook, Marc Wilmore.

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