Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"Family Guy" Goes After Double Emmys

While we're on the subject of prime-time animation, yesterday's trades brought this:

The folks behind “Family Guy” have figured out a way around their Emmy conundrum, entering the hit laffer for the first time in the comedy series category -- and at the same time submitting its hourlong season opener, the “Star Wars” parody “Family Guy: Blue Harvest,” in the animated program category.

“Family Guy” is able to do so by classifying “Blue Harvest” as a special rather than a regular episode of the show. That may rankle some of the show’s rival animated skeins -- which have struggled for years over the Emmy eligibility question -- but it’s a legitimate classification.

The Simpsons, of course, has dominated the animation category at the Emmy awards for some years. And over the years, I've gotten complaints from animation artists that they often get short-changed at awards time. But there's another side to it, as Variety points out:

... when skeins like “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” enter in the animated categories, they’re not able to compete in the comedy writing categories. That’s not a popular move for scribes, who believe they should be competing against their brethren who work at live-action shows like “The Office.”

“It always seemed a little odd that we were up against ‘The Powderpuff Girls,’ ” said “Family Guy” exec producer Chris Sheridan. “Our true creative competition is other half-hour shows, like ‘Two and a Half Men’ and ‘My Name Is Earl.’ We considered in the past switching from the animation category to the regular comedy series category, but we didn’t do it. The only way our animated people could be recognized was to stick with that.”

I'd disagree somewhat with Mr. Sheridan, but I understand his position. Animation writers feel disrespected, stuck in the animation ghetto, unable to compete freely with their true peers on those other sitcoms.

Funny thing, though. A few years back, some animation directors came to me asking for a letter addressed to the television academy outlining what they did, and how it was distinct and different from what the writers did, and that writers shouldn't be classified as directors when they were really writing, not doing the director's job.

I wrote the letter. And word came back to me that my communication was no received warmly by some members of the television subcommittee (writers) who read it.

I guess the lessons to be learned here are: 1) the grass is often greener in the adjoining pasture, and 2) somebody's always unhappy about something.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Sheridan sounded a bit condescending there, in addition to mispronouncing the show's name. He writes for an animated show, but it sounds like he's ashamed to be lumped into the same category as those lowly kids' shows on cable. I guess he feels he didn't go to Yale all those years to be known as a "cartoon writer."

Anonymous said...

To be fair, Mr. Sheridan's previous credits are "Yes, Dear" and "Titus." So obviously he knows his way around cutting edge comedy.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't understand his position whatsoever, at all, never will, I'm sure he's a nice guy and all that, quick wit, really neat fella, yada, yada. But Mr. Sheridan should just place a big fat vote with his pocketbook and go cold turkey from animation, his mortgage be damned. The quicker he delivers his masterpiece live-action comedy to the world the better.

But I bet you that in less than five years, he will have sold nothing but, guess what? - an animated children's show! You know - for his kids that were begging him to! And we will all get to work for him! Yay! (Actually, its far more likely he will sell the next post-pregnancy Nick kids sit-com Zoey Home Economics.... (i am sobbing uncontrollably now...)

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's not really a legitimate classification - it's a cheat, and an attempt to have it both ways. There have been many other shows with one hour specials who have tried to enter in both the "Animated Series" and "One hour special" categories and have been shot down on technicalities over the year. This stinks of favoritism. My guess is the voters will see through the ploy and not nominate them in either category.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I saw Chris' previous credits. Titus wasn't too bad actually.

But I bet you that in less than five years, he will have sold nothing but, guess what? - an animated children's show! You know - for his kids that were begging him to! And we will all get to work for him!

I don't know. That show probably wouldn't have a Writers Guild of America contract.

And I don't like the Emmys' rules so as far as I'm concerned Family Guy can find their loopholes and enter into the best comedy category. I'm surprised The Simpsons has never attempted to submit to it.

Anonymous said...

It always seemed a little odd that a poorly drawn show such as "Family Guy" was up against such a well-drawn show as "The POWERpuff Girls"...

Anonymous said...

Didn't The Simpsons submit themselves for comedy once back in the 90's, and go running back to the animation category after they received no nomination?

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