Dr. John Leverence

Senior Vice President, Awards, Television Academy


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour interview Dr. John Leverence talks about growing up in Kansas City, MO and the impact television had on him at a young age. He discusses pursuing a Masters in English and Literature from the University of Chicago and then receiving a PhD in Popular Culture from Bowling Green University where he also taught media studies. He discusses moving to California to teach at Cal State Long Beach in their Radio-TV department, and learning about the Television Academy from a former classmate who was a television writer. He details coming to work for the Academy in 1979 in the Awards department, right at the time there was a lawsuit which divided the Hollywood and New York chapters into two organizations (respectively ATAS and NATAS). He talks about the "wheel" system whereby the Emmys telecast is presented by a different network each year on a rotating basis. Leverence talks about publishing the rules and procedures for the Primetime Emmy Awards and his thoughts behind this decision and the benefits of transparency. He discusses various rule changes, challenges, and controversies surrounding administering the awards, and how the expansion of the television medium has changed the way the Emmy ballot and voting process works, and the impact of subscription-based services on the television landscape. He explains how cable came to be eligible for Emmy awards, why the awards are held in September, how categories are defined and modified, how the appeals process works, how categories are added or discontinued, and his role during the actual Creative Arts and Primetime Emmys telecast. He reminiscences about memorable Emmy telecasts and the life-defining event that he believes an Emmy award to be, having witnessed the raw emotion of many award-winners as they received the statuette. He discusses his legacy of 40 years at the Television Academy and the 39 Awards he has worked on in his tenure. Leverence describes what is the single most important role of the Television Academy: to maintain the integrity of the award. He describes the honor of receiving the Syd Cassyd Award, his proudest career achievement, creating a separate award for Engineering, and what he has enjoyed most about his many years at the Emmys helm. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on October 9, 2019 in North Hollywood, CA.

"The Emmy Award is a numinous object. It means something beyond an industry award... a kind of larger synchronicity of where you are in the world, and where you are in your industry. This is a life changer. This is like being struck by some kind of spiritual lightning."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Dr. John Leverence on "the single-most important and valuable asset of the Television Academy is the integrity of the Emmy" and to maintain that, and on how the real challenge is to deal with substantive issues which, if not properly handled, may result in a diminishment of the integrity of the award
Dr. John Leverence on how and when the names of the winners get affixed to the actual Emmy statuette: since no one knows the names of the winners in advance, all the nominees' names are actually engraved on plates in advance, the non-winning nameplates are disposed of and the winners can now watch their plate get bolted to the statuette the night of the Emmys
Dr. John Leverence on the ballot and voting process and how the accounting firm Ernst & Young is able to keep the names of the winners secret until they are announced live on the telecast
Dr. John Leverence on Dean Valentine's idea to create the Archive of American Television and the oral history program (now, The Interviews) at the Television Academy, on the vital importance of archiving, indexing, and preserving oral histories and what he feels would have been a significant failure on the part of the Academy had they not taken the steps (in 1996) to create such an archive, and the lasting impact it will have on the culture and academic study of television
Dr. John Leverence on the new business model of subscription-based programming having the single biggest impact on the television landscape that he has seen
Dr. John Leverence on the importance of the Television Academy Foundation Interviews program and its extraordinary value which he believes scholars will reference for one-hundred years
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his parents and his childhood in Kansas City, Missouri; on the first multi-plex movie theaters developing there; on his first job working as a ticket-taker at the Roxy Theater, which piqued his interest in film
On his early memories of television; on having to fix the picture tubes in his television; on his memories of children's shows such as Howdy Doody, Candid Camera, and more; on his early aspirations of being a baseball player
On his early memories of television; on having to fix the picture tubes in his television; on his memories of children's shows such as Howdy Doody, Candid Camera, and more; on his early aspirations of being a baseball player
On how he came to learn about the Television Academy; on coming to work there right after the Academy split into the National Chapter (NATAS) and Hollywood Chapter (ATAS) in Fall, 1979; on being an academic with no prior experience administering awards or award shows; on the lawsuit between the two Academy Chapters and the key decision that the awards be given peer-to-peer, rather than through membership-wide voting; on some of the early controversies with the competition, specifically with the Daytime Emmys, which the Hollywood Chapter of the Academy administered for a period in the 1980s and '90s, and why that ended; on past Academy presidents Hank Rieger and Richard Frank; on how the "wheel" license agreement came into being, with different networks securing the exclusive right to air the Emmys each year, on a rotating basis; on the ongoing relationship with NATAS; on testifying at the arbitration which negotiated the official split between the two Academys and determined which categories of programming they would each administer; on how the rift and subsequent split with NATAS presented questions regarding which shows would be eligible for Daytime and Primetime Emmys; on how a legacy genre show like police procedurals from producers like David E. Kelley would be a Primetime show and could not overlap for Daytime Emmys (Ed. note: Dr. Leverence would like to note he misspoke here and meant David E. Kelley, not David R. Kelley); on a key meeting between then-ATAS president Jim Chabin and then-NATAS chairman Dick Thrall which was instrumental in reaching an agreement
On his decision to publish the rules and procedures for the Primetime Emmy awards which had previously been kept under lock and key; on who sits on the Awards Committee and how changes to the makeup of that group began to impact changes to the award rules; on the nomination process and schedule for the Primetime Emmy Awards; on the Primetime Emmys Awards committee and how changes to the rules are proposed; on the blue ribbon panels; on the changes in technology from 3/4" tapes to VHS tapes to streaming for at-home viewing and judging; on keeping the voting process secure as the Emmys entered the digital online-voting age; on expanding the Emmy categories; on the impact that reality programming had on the Emmys; on the business model of streaming media where the measure of success was not how many television sets were tuned in to a program but rather the subscription-based service, as the biggest single impact on the television landscape

Chapter 2

On the impact of allowing cable to compete in the Primetime Emmy Awards after an appeal by director John Moffitt; on the definition being modified to include audience numbers of "homes passed" (meaning the program was available to them) rather than "homes entered" making HBO and other cable networks qualified for Emmy eligibility for the first time; on whether the Television Academy Board had ever defined "television" as the medium grew and changed; on television being any content on the recognized platforms; on the similarities between the issues faced by both the Television Academy and the Motion Picture Academy in their approaches to categorizing eligibility for content that is niche programming, not mass-marketed to the general public; on the "gentlemen's agreement" that used to exist among the networks not to air competing content during the Emmys telecast; on why the Emmys telecast is scheduled in September on a Sunday night (historically the Sunday night before the Fall television season began); on the rules for the "May 31" qualification based on when the show aired resulting in some orphan shows
On category classifications and changes, specifically the issue with "dramedies"; on how a program such as Shameless petitioned to be changed from the drama category to the comedy category; on how programs would appeal a category classification before an anonymous "Industry Panel"; on how decisions such as changing category eligibility is rare, and why; on the issues surrounding the supporting player in longform category or "Ellen Burstyn Rule" (Ed. note: Dr. Leverence would like to note he misspoke here and meant Ellen Burstyn, not Ellen Barkin), which requires that the actor appear on-screen in no less than 5% of total running time appearance to qualify; on how the Academy defines "on-screen"; on the importance of the rules of the Awards being transparent; on the difficulties in processing the nominations to check eligibility; on how 75% of the Television Academy Awards staff's time is spent on checking eligibility in preparing the Emmy ballots; on how Emmy Awards eligibility decisions are appealed; on the limited number of eligible persons per category per show; on an issue in 2019 with a show that had people who were both talent and producers but the producer credit was a vanity credit and did not qualify under the Academy guidelines; on the basic principle that a person can only win one Emmy for doing one role on a show; on which Academy rules he personally lobbied to change after so many years administering the Emmys - such as giving the Engineering Awards their own awards show rather than being included in the Creative Arts Emmy Awards; on drafting the argument for including casting as its own Emmy award category; on how stunt coordination became an Emmy category; on the Rule of 14 - "the lungs of the competition" - where if in two consecutive years a category has fewer than 14 nominations, the Television Academy Board votes on whether to discontinue the category or merge it with another, such as the miniseries category
On the 2009 decision to expand the main Primetime Emmy award categories beyond five nominees; on the issues arising from having too many awards and overlapping awards which could result in the apparent "tiering" of awards; on issues with one person winning the same award year after year; on juried awards, such as the Governors Award; on serving as the executive producer on the Television Academy Creative Arts Awards, and on writing the show; on the ceremonies that accompany the Creative Arts Emmy Awards program and how it developed from two nights at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium; on how the decisions were made around which awards would be awarded during the Primetime Emmy Awards, and which would be awarded during the Creative Arts; on the "wheel" for the Emmy award show, as a pan-industry event, showcasing it on a different network each year on a revolving basis; on whether other platforms someday could become part of the wheel; on the predominance of niche cable shows getting more nominations in recent years; on the return of product placement in current television shows similar to those live spots mid-show in the early days of television; on the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast becoming less important to the Television Academy
On his role during the actual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast, which for the last several years has broadcast live from L.A. Live/Nokia (now Microsoft) Theater in downtown Los Angeles; on the logistical fires he is putting out day-of-show; on the origin of the actual gold-plated award statuette designed by Louis McManus and manufactured by R.S. Owens, which does not have any engraving on it when initially presented to the Emmy winners since the names of the winners are not known to anyone before they are announced live; on the heft of the physical statuette; on how the accounting firm Ernst & Young is able to keep the names of the winners secret

Chapter 3

On his recollections of some of the more memorable Emmy Awards shows; on the 32nd Primetime Emmy Awards in 1980 - his first with the Television Academy, which occurred during a SAG (Screen Actors Guild) strike, hosted by Dick Clark and Steve Allen, and on how, because of the strike, no performers attended the award ceremony with the sole exception of the actor Powers Boothe; on Hill Street Blues winning an Emmy at the 33rd Primetime Emmy Awards in 1981, just as the show was on the verge of being cancelled; on the NCTA's (National Cable Television Association) attempt to compete with the Emmys by coming up with the Cable ACE awards; on the importance of the Emmy award within the industry, and on the sheer stupor and emotion that he has witnessed by those who win the Emmy; on stories of people being overwhelmed, injured, or dazed by winning the award; on how he believes winning an Emmy Award to be a life-altering event for those who experience it
On the 50th anniversary of the Emmy Awards in 1998; on the legacy of the Television Academy and the importance of archiving the stories and the history of the industry; on Dean Valentine's idea to create the Archive of American Television and the oral history program (now, The Interviews) at the Television Academy; on the vital importance of archiving history and what can be learned from those who came before us; on how he works with the Emmys producers to present the show in a way that reflects the significance of the moment; on his input on the content of both the Creative Arts Emmy Awards and the Primetime Emmy Awards; on the qualities that make a good Emmys show producer; on choosing presenters and why you cannot trust a comedian to host the show
On how he prepares nominees for acceptance speeches; on his limited input regarding the content of the Primetime Emmys telecast; on his advice for acceptance speeches that are heartfelt rather than transactional; on Viola Davis winning an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2015 (for How to Get Away with Murder) as the first Black actress to win in that category; on how the Television Academy has addressed inclusivity and avoided the kind of criticism that the #OscarsSoWhite reaction to the Motion Picture Academy's Oscar awards has experienced in recent years

Chapter 4

On the first Primetime Emmys Awards show following 9/11, and on the decision to move the date of the Primetime telecast (which was set to occur on October 7, 2001 the day a U.S.-led coalition invaded Afghanistan); on his belief that the original date should have been kept since he believes television is a powerful medium which had the ability to honor and be respectful of the war effort as well as celebrate excellence in the industry; on an imposter accepting an Emmy award that was intended for Betty Thomas (Hill Street Blues) at the 1985 awards
On what distinguishes the Emmy award from other similar awards such as the Oscar; on the symbolism of the Emmy statuette and the reverence of the Emmy award as recognized by the industry; on the single-most valuable asset of the Awards department as well as his role as the Administrator of the awards: to maintain the integrity of the Emmy; on how the administration of the award does deal with certain housekeeping measures, but the real challenge is to deal with substantive issues which, if not properly handled, may result in a diminishment of the integrity of the award
On how he has balanced maintaining the structure of award management and its rules alongside the ever-evolving changes in the television industry and technologies; on how the administration of the awards necessitates a thorough, annual review of the rules and procedures to allow for fine-tuning; on having worked on thirty-nine Emmys (almost half the total number of Emmys that have occurred as of the date of this interview in 2019 shortly after the 71st Annual Primetime Emmys) for the Television Academy and what has changed the most in his tenure; on the accommodations made by the Academy to include more platforms and programming
On his changing responsibilities in the Television Academy awards department; on changes in technology that the department utilizes; on his book "And the Winner Is... Using Awards Programs to Promote your Company and Encourage Your Employees" (1998); on many of the colleagues who he worked with and was influenced by such as Dr. James Loper, Dixon Dern, George Sunga, Louise Stanton, and Barbara Chase; on his longtime colleague Julie Shore who worked alongside him for over thirty years in the Television Academy Awards department and succeeded him as the awards administrator; on his advice to those who succeed him at the Emmy awards: on protecting the integrity of the award as a sacred object; on receiving the Syd Cassyd Award; on his proudest career achievement and what he has enjoyed most about administering the Emmy Awards
Shows

Candid Camera

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Dr. John Leverence on being a fan of Candid Camera, which he watched growing up

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Dr. John Leverence on the history of the split between the National and Hollywood Chapters of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and how the Daytime awards were briefly administered by the Hollywood Chapter in the '80s and '90s and why that ended (it is now administered by the National Chapter, or NATAS), and on the background of the "wheel" - the license agreement between the major networks who broadcast the Emmys and the Television Academy on an exclusive, rotating basis
Dr. John Leverence on the Television Academy switching over from physical DVD-shipping for Emmy ballot voting to an online, digital platform and the technical challenges of that process, and on the influence then-Academy Chairman/CEO Bruce Rosenblum and Academy President Maury McIntyre had on this process
Dr. John Leverence on the impact of allowing cable to compete in the Primetime Emmy Awards after an appeal by director John Moffitt led to a review of the definition of "national broadcasting", and on how at the time, national broadcasting was then-defined by having a presence in homes of over 50% of the United States -- the definition was modified to include audience numbers of "homes passed" (meaning the program was available to them) rather than "homes entered," making HBO and other cable networks qualified for Emmy eligibility for the first time
Dr. John Leverence on the similarities between the issues faced by both the Television Academy and the Motion Picture Academy in their approaches to categorizing eligibility for content that is niche programming, not mass-marketed to the general public, and how this impacts viewership of the programs
Dr. John Leverence on the "gentlemen's agreement" that used to exist among the networks not to air competing content during the Emmys telecast, and on why the Emmys telecast is scheduled in September on the Sunday night before the Fall television season began, and why that is irrelevant now
Dr. John Leverence on Emmys category classifications and changes, such as with the program Shameless which had elements of both comedy and drama categories, and how the show's producers appealed to change the classification to a comedy
Dr. John Leverence on the Emmys cutoff rule that almost made the final season of The Sopranos ineligible for an Emmy Award until the year after it aired and how the award year eligibility calendar always will result in some "orphan shows", and on how then-HBO chairman Chris Albrecht appealed to the Television Academy Awards Department for an accommodation which was made to allow the show to be eligible for an Emmy in its final year
Dr. John Leverence on the classification of a program for the Emmys based on its running time - if a program is 30 minutes it is considered a comedy and if it is 60 minutes it is considered a drama, and on the process by which programs that wish to change categories submit a number of the show's episodes to an "Industry Panel" (an anonymous group of high-level programming executives)
Dr. John Leverence on the ambiguity surrounding how programs are categorized, and on the issues surrounding the classification of the documentary Surviving R. Kelly as a documentary rather than as an informational series, resulting in a review by the peer group of the guidelines defining the category
Dr. John Leverence on the issue with guest actors and the rules around their eligibility for Emmy nominations and the effect of high-profile performers such as on these categories, and on the situation when Peter MacNicol was nominated in the guest actor category for Veep, but was ultimately deemed ineligible because he appeared in more than 50% of the total show, violating the Academy's rules for guest actors
Dr. John Leverence on the issues surrounding the Emmys category of a supporting player in longform, the so-called "Ellen Burstyn Rule" (Ed. note: Dr. Leverence would like to note he misspoke here and meant Ellen Burstyn, not Ellen Barkin), which states that the actor appear on-screen in no less than 5% of total running time to qualify, and on how the Academy defines "on-screen"
Dr. John Leverence on the importance of the rules of the Emmy Awards being transparent, on the difficulties in processing the nominations to check eligibility and how 75% of the Television Academy Awards staff's time is spent on checking eligibility in preparing the Emmy ballots, and on issues surrounding the eligibility of "consulting producers" and how Emmy Award eligibility decisions are appealed, and on the limited number of eligible persons per category per show and an issue in 2019 with a show that had people who were both talent and producers but the producer credit was a vanity credit and did not qualify under the Academy guidelines, and on the basic principle that a person can only win one Emmy for doing one role on a show
Dr. John Leverence on which Television Academy rules he personally lobbied to change after so many years administering the Emmys - such as giving the Engineering Awards their own awards show rather than being included in the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, and on drafting the argument for including casting as its own Emmy award category, and on how stunt coordination became an Emmy category
Dr. John Leverence on the Televison Academy Rule of 14 - "the lungs of the competition" - where if in two consecutive years a category has fewer than 14 Emmy nominations, the Television Academy Board votes on whether to discontinue the category or merge it with another, such as the miniseries category
Dr. John Leverence on the 2009 decision to expand the main Primetime Emmy award categories beyond five nominees, and the issues arising from too many awards and overlapping awards, and on an instance with apparent "tiering" where you had an award for lead actor in a drama series as well as overall best actor in a drama series and why that can be detrimental to the awards
Dr. John Leverence on the issues arising from the same individual winning and Emmy in the same category every year, and on how Jean Stapleton declined to be nominated after winning lead actress in a comedy series (for All in the Family) multiple times
Dr. John Leverence on serving as the executive producer on the Television Academy Creative Arts Awards, and on how the decisions were made around which awards would be awarded during the Primetime Emmy Awards, and which would be awarded during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards
Dr. John Leverence on the "wheel" which established the Emmy award show as a pan-industry event by showcasing it on a different network each year on a revolving basis, and the lingering question of how this might work with different platforms in the future, and on how the networks are selected through the "wheel" process
Dr. John Leverence on the platinum age of television and the impact of then-current quality of shows being produced and the importance of the Television Academy and the Emmy Awards in celebrating that excellence
Dr. John Leverence on how and when the names of the winners get affixed to the actual Emmy statuette - since no one knows the names of the winners in advance, all the nominees' names are actually engraved on plates in advance then the non-winning plates are disposed of and the winners' names are affixed to the statuette
Dr. John Leverence on the origin of and design of the Emmy statuette, designed by Louis McManus, and on the actual weight (about six pounds) and heft of the statuette, made out of compound metal by R.S. Owens
Dr. John Leverence on the ballot and voting process for the Emmy Awards and how the accounting firm Ernst & Young is able to keep the names of the winners secret - the names of the Emmy winners are only first disclosed when the envelopes are opened live on the telecast
Dr. John Leverence on Viola Davis winning an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2015 (for How to Get Away with Murder) as the first Black actress to win in that category
Dr. John Leverence on the single-most valuable asset of the Awards department and his role as the Administrator of the awards: to maintain the integrity of the Emmy, and on how the administration of the award does deal with certain housekeeping measures, but the real challenge is to deal with substantive issues which, if not properly handled, may result in a diminishment of the integrity of the award
Dr. John Leverence on his advice to those who succeed him in the Emmy Awards department after his retirement: on protecting the integrity of the award as a sacred object
Dr. John Leverence on an imposter, Barry Bremen, who accepted an Emmy award that was intended for Betty Thomas (Hill Street Blues) and who had snuck into the 1985 awards by tricking Leverence into an extra ticket to the show

Emmy Awards, The: 67th Primetime (2015)

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Dr. John Leverence on Viola Davis winning an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2015 (for How to Get Away with Murder) as the first Black actress to win in that category

Hill Street Blues

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Dr. John Leverence on Hill Street Blues winning an Emmy at the 33rd Primetime Emmy Awards in 1981, just as the show was on the verge of being cancelled, and on what winning the Emmy meant for the show as well as the genre of the police procedural

How to Get Away with Murder

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Dr. John Leverence on Viola Davis winning an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2015 (for How to Get Away with Murder) as the first Black actress to win in that category

Howdy Doody

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Dr. John Leverence on watching Howdy Doody as a kid and thinking the in-program ads with Buffalo Bob were rather sadistic

Shameless

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Dr. John Leverence on Emmys category classifications and changes, such as with the program Shameless which had elements of both comedy and drama categories, and how the show's producers appealed to change the classification to a comedy

Sopranos, The

View Show Page
Dr. John Leverence on the Emmys cutoff rule that almost made the final season of The Sopranos ineligible for an Emmy Award until the year after it aired and how the award year eligibility calendar always will result in some "orphan shows", and on how then-HBO chairman Chris Albrecht appealed to the Television Academy Awards Department for an accommodation which was made to allow the show to be eligible for an Emmy in its final year
Topics

9/11

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Dr. John Leverence on the Primetime Emmy telecast that aired shortly after 9/11

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Dr. John Leverence on his first job, as a ticket-taker at the Roxy Theater in Kansas City, Missouri, which enabled him to sneak a peek at films being shown, and on his early memories of television and the shows he enjoyed
Dr. John Leverence on the importance of the Television Academy Foundation Interviews program and its extraordinary value which he believes scholars will reference for one-hundred years

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Dr. John Leverence on how the Television Academy has addressed inclusivity and avoided the kind of criticism that the #OscarsSoWhite reaction to the Motion Picture Academy's Oscar awards has experienced in recent years
Dr. John Leverence on Viola Davis winning an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2015 (for How to Get Away with Murder) as the first Black actress to win in that category

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Dr. John Leverence on the Emmys "cutoff rule" that almost made the final season of The Sopranos ineligible for nomination until the year after it aired, and how then-HBO chairman Chris Albrecht appealed to the Television Academy Awards department and the accommodation was made to allow the show to be eligible for an Emmy in its final year
Dr. John Leverence on Emmy category classifications and changes, such as with the program Shameless which had elements of both comedy and drama categories, and how the show's producers appealed to change the classification to a comedy
John Leverence on the classification of a program for the Emmys based on its running time - if a program is 30 minutes it is considered a comedy and if it is 60 minutes it is considered a drama, and on the process by which programs that wish to change categories submit a number of the show's episodes to an "Industry Panel" (an anonymous group of high-level programming executives)
Dr. John Leverence on the ambiguity surrounding how programs are categorized, and on the issues surrounding the classification of the documentary Surviving R. Kelly as a documentary rather than as an informational series, resulting in a review by the peer group of the guidelines defining the category
Dr. John Leverence on the issue with guest actors and the eligibility rules around their eligibility for Emmy nominations
Dr. John Leverence on the issues surrounding the category of  supporting player in longform and the issues surrounding the so-called "Ellen Burstyn Rule" (Ed. note: Dr. Leverence would like to note he misspoke here and meant Ellen Burstyn, not Ellen Barkin)
Dr. John Leverence on which Television Academy rules he personally lobbied to change after so many years administering the Emmys
Dr. John Leverence on the Television Academy Rule of 14 where if in two consecutive years a category has fewer than 14 Emmy nominations, the Television Academy Board votes on whether to discontinue the category or merge it with another
Dr. John Leverence on the 2009 decision to expand the main Primetime Emmy award categories beyond five nominees
Dr. John Leverence on the issues arising from the same individual winning an Emmy in the same category every year
Dr. John Leverence on how and when the names of the winners get affixed to the actual Emmy statuette - since no one knows the names of the winners in advance, all the nominees' names are actually engraved on plates in advance then the non-winning plates are disposed of and the winners' names are affixed to the statuette
Dr. John Leverence on the origin of and design of the Emmy statuette, designed by Louis McManus; on the actual weight (about six pounds) and heft of the statuette, made out of compound metal by R.S. Owens
Dr. John Leverence on the ballot and voting process and how the accounting firm Ernst & Young is able to keep the names of the winners secret - the names of the Emmy winners are first disclosed when the envelopes are opened live on the telecast
Dr. John Leverence on bearing witness through his long tenure as the Administrator of the Emmy Awards to the sheer stupor experienced by those who win an Emmy award and some of his memories of various people getting injured by the physical award statuette, and on sound editor Russ Tinsley, whose son Rusty had a prosthetic leg, winning the award and waiting for his son to put the leg back on before he would go onstage to receive the award
Dr. John Leverence on actor Jon Hamm being overwhelmed by finally winning an Emmy award after numerous nominations
Dr. John Leverence on Viola Davis winning an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2015 (for How to Get Away with Murder) as the first Black actress to win in that category
Dr. John Leverence on how the Television Academy has addressed inclusivity and avoid the kind of criticism that the #OscarsSoWhite reaction to the Motion Picture Academy's Oscar awards has experienced in recent years
Dr. John Leverence on the single-most valuable asset of the Awards department as well as his role as the Administrator of the awards: to maintain the integrity of the Emmy, and on how the administration of the award does deal with certain housekeeping measures, but the real challenge is to deal with substantive issues which, if not properly handled, may result in a diminishment of the integrity of the award
Dr. John Leverence on the importance of the Television Academy Foundation Interviews program and its extraordinary value which he believes scholars will reference for one-hundred years

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Dr. John Leverence on how the Television Academy has addressed inclusivity and avoided the kind of criticism that the #OscarsSoWhite reaction to the Motion Picture Academy's Oscar awards has experienced in recent years
Dr. John Leverence on Viola Davis winning an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2015 (for How to Get Away with Murder) as the first Black actress to win in that category
Dr. John Leverence on the Primetime Emmy telecast that aired shortly after 9/11

Interactive Technology

View Topic
Dr. John Leverence on the new business model of subscription-based programming having the single biggest impact on the television landscape that he has seen

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Dr. John Leverence on his first job, as a ticket-taker at the Roxy Theater in Kansas City, Missouri, which enabled him to sneak a peek at films being shown, and on his early memories of television and the shows he enjoyed

Television Industry

View Topic
Dr. John Leverence on the new business model of subscription-based programming having the single biggest impact on the television landscape that he has seen
Dr. John Leverence on Dean Valentine's idea to create the Archive of American Television and the oral history program (now, The Interviews) at the Television Academy, on the vital importance of archiving history, the value of indexing oral histories, and the academic importance of the oral history archive, and on what he feels would have been a significant failure on the part of the Television Academy had they not taken the steps (in 1996) to create such an archive, and the lasting impact it will have on its contributions to the culture of television

Underrepresented Voices

View Topic
Dr. John Leverence on Viola Davis winning an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2015 (for How to Get Away with Murder) as the first Black actress to win in that category
Genres

Awards Shows

View Genre
Dr. John Leverence on the history of the split between the National and Hollywood Chapters of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and how the Daytime awards were briefly administered by the Hollywood Chapter in the '80s and '90s and why that ended (it is now administered by the national chapter, or NATAS), and on the background of the "wheel" - the license agreement between the major networks who broadcast the Awards show and the Television Academy on an exclusive, rotating basis
Dr. John Leverence on the Primetime Emmy Awards nomination process
Dr. John Leverence on how proposals to the rules and procedures for the Emmys are considered and implemented
Dr. John Leverence on the impact of allowing cable to compete in the Primetime Emmy Awards
Dr. John Leverence on the similarities between the issues faced by both the Television Academy and the Motion Picture Academy in their approaches to categorizing eligibility for content that is niche programming, not mass-marketed to the general public and how this impacts viewership of the programs
Dr. John Leverence on the "gentlemen's agreement" that used to exist among the networks not to air competing content during the Emmys telecast, and on why the Emmys telecast is traditionally scheduled in September on the Sunday night before the Fall television season began
Dr. John Leverence on the Emmys cutoff rule that almost made the final season of The Sopranos ineligible until the year after it aired
Dr. John Leverence on Emmy category classifications and changes, such as with the program Shameless which had elements of both comedy and drama categories
Dr. John Leverence on the classification of a program for the Emmy Awards based on its running time: if a program is 30 minutes it is considered a comedy and if it is 60 minutes it is considered a drama (unless the show appeals this decision)
Dr. John Leverence on the ambiguity surrounding how programs are categorized for an Emmy Award
Dr. John Leverence on the issue with guest actors and the eligibility rules around their eligibility for Emmy nominations
Dr. John Leverence on the issues surrounding the Emmy category of supporting player in longform and the issues surrounding the so-called "Ellen Burstyn Rule" (Ed note: Dr. Leverence would like to note he misspoke here and meant Ellen Burstyn, not Ellen Barkin)
Dr. John Leverence on the importance of the rules of the Emmy Awards being transparent, and on the difficulties in processing the nominations to check eligibility
Dr. John Leverence on how Emmy Award eligibility decisions are appealed
Dr. John Leverence on which Television Academy rules he personally lobbied to change after so many years administering the Emmys
Dr. John Leverence on the Television Academy Rule of 14 where if in two consecutive years a category has fewer than 14 Emmy nominations, the Television Academy Board votes on whether to discontinue the category or merge it with another
Dr. John Leverence on the 2009 decision to expand the main Primetime Emmy award categories beyond five nominees
Dr. John Leverence on the issues arising from the same individual winning an Emmy in the same category every year
Dr. John Leverence on the "wheel" which established the Emmy Awards show as a pan-industry event by showcasing it on a different network each year on a revolving basis, and the lingering question of how this might work with different platforms in the future
Dr. John Leverence on how and when the names of the winners get affixed to the actual Emmy statuette
Dr. John Leverence on the origin of and design of the Emmy statuette, designed by Louis McManus
Dr. John Leverence on the ballot and voting process and how the accounting firm Ernst & Young is able to keep the names of the winners secret until they are announced on the telecast
Dr. John Leverence on the NCTA (National Cable Television Association) and their attempt to compete with the Emmys by coming up with the Cable ACE awards, and on the importance of the Emmy Award within the industry and how people react to winning the award
Dr. John Leverence on bearing witness through his long tenure as the Administrator of the Emmy Awards of the sheer stupor experienced by those who win an Emmy Award
Dr. John Leverence on the single-most valuable asset of the Awards department and his role as the Administrator of the awards: to maintain the integrity of the Emmy, and on how the administration of the award does deal with certain housekeeping measures, but the real challenge is to deal with substantive issues which, if not properly handled, may result in a diminishment of the integrity of the award
Dr. John Leverence on his advice to those who succeed him at the Emmy awards after his retirement: on protecting the integrity of the award as a sacred object
People

Chris Albrecht

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Dr. John Leverence on the Emmys cutoff rule that almost made the final season of The Sopranos ineligible for an Emmy Award until the year after it aired and how the award year eligibility calendar always will result in some "orphan shows", and on how then-HBO chairman Chris Albrecht appealed to the Television Academy Awards Department for an accommodation which was made to allow the show to be eligible for an Emmy in its final year

Powers Boothe

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Dr. John Leverence on the 32nd annual Emmy Awards in 1980, which occurred during a SAG (Screen Actors Guild) strike and no performers attending the ceremony because of the strike, with the sole exception of the actor Powers Boothe

Jim Chabin

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Dr. John Leverence on a key meeting between Jim Chabin, the then-president of the Television Academy (ATAS), and Dick Thrall, the then-chairman of the National Academy (NATAS) which was instrumental in the two sides reaching an agreement to their long-term organizational disagreements

Viola Davis

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Dr. John Leverence on Viola Davis winning an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2015 (for How to Get Away with Murder) as the first Black actress to win in that category

Dixon Dern

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Dr. John Leverence on longtime legal counsel for the Television Academy, Dixon Dern who taught him to "always look for precedent" which he took as an invaluable insight

Jon Hamm

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Dr. John Leverence on actor Jon Hamm being overwhelmed by finally winning an Emmy award after numerous nominations

David E. Kelley

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Dr. John Leverence on how the rift and subsequent split with NATAS (the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) presented questions regarding which shows would be eligible for Daytime and Primetime Emmys; on how a legacy genre show like police procedurals from producers such as David E. Kelley would be a Primetime show and could not overlap for Daytime Emmys (Ed. note: Dr. Leverence would like to note he misspoke here and meant David E. Kelley, not David R. Kelley)

James L. Loper

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Dr. John Leverence on working with Dr. James Loper

John Moffitt

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Dr. John Leverence on John Moffitt, an Emmy-award winning director, who made the appeal to the Academy Board of Governors to allow cable television shows, such as those on HBO, to be eligible for an Emmy Award

Julie Shore

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Dr. John Leverence on his colleague Julie Shore who worked alongside him for over 30 years in the Television Academy Awards department and succeeded him as the awards administrator upon his retirement

George Sunga

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Dr. John Leverence on his working relationship with George Sunga, longtime Chair of the Television Academy

Dick Thrall

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Dr. John Leverence on a key meeting between Jim Chabin, the then-president of the Television Academy (ATAS), and Dick Thrall, the then-chairman of the National Academy (NATAS) which was instrumental in the two sides reaching an agreement to their long-term organizational disagreements

Dean Valentine

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Dr. John Leverence on Dean Valentine's idea to create the Archive of American Television and the oral history program (now, The Interviews) at the Television Academy, on the vital importance of archiving history, the value of indexing oral histories, and the academic importance of the oral history archive, and on what he feels would have been a significant failure on the part of the Television Academy had they not taken the steps (in 1996) to create such an archive, and the lasting impact it will have on its contributions to the culture of television

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