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“Hamilton” Will Not Be Eligible For The Academy Awards

Just a few days ago, I pondered this very question. In light of Hamilton debuting to such huge acclaim (no surprise), thoughts of Oscar began dancing around folks’ heads. However, the question of whether it was eligible remained. Many, like myself, figured that it met the criteria but would meet with resistance from purist voters. However, in looking at the Academy’s fine print in the rules, it turns out that is in fact, ineligible (even though they have ignored this rule in the past, but that’s neither here nor there). So, while the Academy Awards won’t be where Hamilton competes, the Emmy Awards next year do remain a possibility.

According to Variety, the changes in the rules back in April to allow for movies without theatrical release to compete for Oscars does not include filmed performances like this one. The Emmy Awards have a different criteria that allows for it to compete in certain spots, but the Academy is drawing a line in the sand, at least for now. It’s possible that Disney supports their film by challenging the ruling, but in all likelihood, it’ll be Emmys or bust now for Hamilton…

Here’s a bit from their report on the ruling:

“Hamilton” won 11 Tonys, a Pulitzer and a Grammy, and the filmed version on Disney Plus was the talk of social media throughout July 4 weekend — but it won’t be headed to the Oscars.

Disney had planned a theatrical release in October 2021 before dropping it early on its streaming service, but that’s not enough to qualify it for Oscar consideration. Though eligibility rules were amended in April to allow films with planned theatrical releases to compete, according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, “Recorded stage productions are not eligible for consideration.”

While “Give ‘em Hell, Harry,” a recording of the one-man stage play of the same name, earned an Oscar nomination for best actor for James Whitmore in 1976, the rules changed in 1997 when language was added to the documentary category that disqualified recorded stage performances.

On the television awards front, “Hamilton” will indeed be eligible for Emmy consideration in 2021, but here’s the rub: It will have to enter in the outstanding variety special (pre-recorded) category, not the TV movie competition.

Per the TV Academy rules, “Programs exclusively originated for or derived/adapted from a medium other than television or broadband (e.g. taped concert tour performance, Broadway play, opera, night club act), and entertainment components of sports programs (e.g. halftime show) are eligible as appropriate in variety special (live) or variety special (pre-recorded).”

That unfortunately limits performer Emmys for “Hamilton,” despite the fact that it’s jam-packed with talented players on stage. In the case of “Hamilton,” it depends on who is credited as a producer, as well as who is considered the primary performer (presumably, Lin-Manuel Miranda). The Emmy rules state that “the principal host for variety series and the principal host/performer for variety specials are eligible to be entered with the program categories. Secondary performers are not eligible.”

“Hamilton” is known for its music, of course, and the Disney Plus presentation will indeed be able to compete in the outstanding music direction category, which is “for a single episode of a comedy, drama or variety series, movie, limited series, or special, whether it is variety, music or cultural programming.”

But it won’t be able to submit in the original music and lyrics fields, which is “limited to songs written expressly for, and first performed in a program during the current eligibility year.”

Other categories that “Hamilton” will be able to compete in are multiple crafts fields, as well as outstanding directing for a limited series, movie or dramatic special. (Unless Disney Plus decides to place it in the variety special directing category.)

Broadway adaptations on TV are fairly common, and have seen plenty of Emmy nominations and wins through the years — both through anthology series like “Great Performances” and “American Playhouse,” as well as specials such as “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” and “John Leguizamo’s Freak.” Last year, Netflix’s “Springsteen on Broadway” was nominated for outstanding variety special (pre-recorded), and outstanding directing for a variety special.

Stay tuned to see how Hamilton ends up doing with Emmy voters next year!

(Source: Variety)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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