Nine times Emmy honors have been revoked or rescinded
For all the glamor, artistry, and accounting that goes into an awards show, things don’t always go smoothly. (Just ask the Oscars about Moonlight or the Razzies about Tom Green.) Television is no exception, and both the Primetime and Daytime Emmy Awards have had to rescind and revoke honors they have given. And while nominations being withdrawn after announcement is uncommon, an even rarer occurrence happened in March 2020 when the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences stripped two honorees of nominations and Emmy awards. A timeline of some of Emmys’ low points, ahead.
In the mid-1990s, you couldn’t escape Dennis Miller, babe. He hosted the Billboard Music Awards and the MTV Video Music Awards. He appeared on Comic Relief, and his book The Rants was a bestseller. Dennis Miller Live on HBO was a post-Saturday Night Live cast member success story. What he couldn’t do was be nominated for the Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program Emmy since he was the host of his eponymous show, which was technically against the rules at the time, and not discovered until after his nom was announced. Miller was out, Rosie O’Donnell was in, and eventually the award went to Barbra Streisand. Don’t worry about Miller, though — over the run of the show, he and Live’s writing staff won five Emmys.
NBC’s Battery Park premiered in March 2000 as midseason replacement, but the NYPD-centric comedy was canceled after only four episodes, and the network didn’t burn off airing the remaining shows until June — after the May 31 Emmy eligibility cutoff date. Henry Winkler’s guest appearance earned an Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Emmy nomination, but it was later pointed out the episode in which he was featured didn’t air until summer. Winkler, unfazed, said, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. I am thrilled to be nominated for The Practice and Battery Park, even though it did not qualify.” Winkler’s slot went to William H. Macy for his guest role on Sports Night, and Bruce Willis eventually ended up winning the award for Friends. Winkler would go on to win his first Emmy for Barry in 2018.
Peter MacNicol’s Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his turn on Veep was disqualified after the TV Academy determined the actor had appeared in half the season’s episodes, saying in a statement, “HBO’s guest actor entry for Peter MacNicol was accurate at the time of the submission deadline, but he was subsequently included in an additional Veep episode. Unfortunately, that additional appearance places him in 50% of the season’s episodes and makes him no longer eligible to compete in the guest actor category.” Peter Scolari replaced MacNicol on the ballot and went on to win the Emmy for his appearance on Girls.
Few shows have made the freshman impact of This is Us, and NBC soon had a new hit drama with 11 Emmy nominations to tout its success. Just weeks later, it was announced the Emmy nom for Outstanding Contemporary Costumes was revoked when it was determined there were more 1970s period costumes than modern due to the number of flashbacks in the episode submitted for consideration, “Moonshadow.”
In summer 2017 the International Academy announced Kevin Spacey as the recipient of the International Emmy Founder Award ahead of its November awards show, honoring the actor for his global contributions to the television arts thanks in part to Netflix’s House of Cards success. In October, actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of trying to have sex with him when he was 14, and the honor was revoked before it could given to Spacey. Spacey stated that he did not remember the encounter with Rapp but "if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior." Rapp has since filed suit against Spacey over the alleged sexual assault.
The Daytime Emmys are the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ domain, and like their counterparts in the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, it can be the minutiae of the rules that causes confusion. Days of our Lives actress Patrika Darbo had already taken home an Emmy for guest-starring on Amazon’s The Bay when NATAS announced her nomination reel had been improperly submitted due to having material from more than one episode on the entry and for previously appearing on the show. The runner-up, Jennifer Bassey, was found to have the same error with her entry, and the Emmy went unawarded for the year. The controversy came to a head when the big four daytime soaps threatened to boycott the annual awards show unless changes were made to the voting procedures.
While the TV Academy has not formally stripped disgraced comedian Bill Cosby of any Emmy wins, nor his induction into the Hall of Fame, the group did announce it would remove his name from the Emmys website and his bust from display. Cosby was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Kennedy Center rescinded his Kennedy Center Honors and Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2018.
Better Call Saul’s prequel web series Better Call Saul Employee Training: Madrigal Electromotive Security had two Emmy nominations revoked, Short Form Comedy or Drama Series and an Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series nomination for Jonathan Banks, when the TV Academy announced the majority of the shorts did not meet the two-minute runtime minimum. “This decision is in no way a diminishment of the quality of Better Call Saul Employee Training or Mr. Banks’ performance in it,” the Academy said in a statement. The show earned nine other Emmy noms for the season.
AFI founder George Stevens Jr. has had an impressive career filled with dozens of Emmy nominations and multiple wins, but in March 2020 he and his editor Catherine Shields were stripped of the four nominations and three wins earned for George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin. Legendary director George Stevens — George Jr.’s father — was part of the Signal Corps Special Motion Picture Unit in Europe during World War II, and on his own personal cameras captured color footage of the war that was later turned into a documentary for the BBC with his son’s permission, D-Day to Berlin: Newsnight Special, which aired in 1985. George Stevens Jr. later went on to re-edit the documentary with Shields to cut down the running time, and added his own narration to the film, giving it the new title along the way. It wasn’t until the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019 that the British team responsible for the original documentary found out about Stevens’ version of their doc, and they appealed to the TV Academy to take action.
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