Miniseries such as "Top of the Lake" and "The Bible," both expected to figure in the race for
So much long-form programming is now in the pipeline that in April, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences restored supporting acting categories for movies and miniseries, reversing an earlier decision to collapse the acting categories in response to a decline in production.
This year's miniseries contenders reflect fascinating trends in a format that almost overnight has become television's most dynamic and rapidly growing sector.
"It's a bit of an embarrassment of riches how many projects there are now," says Dirk Hoogstra, History's executive vice president of programming. "We've been flooded with pitches. People have these passion projects that are miniseries, and till now there have been very few outlets for them."
In the works at History are "Texas Rising," an origin story of the Texas Rangers law enforcement agency formed in 1835, plus multi-parters about Bonnie and Clyde,
Hoogstra attributes the renewed appeal of the long form partly to a pronounced shift in TV viewing options. "Everything's available on some digital platform that you can view at any time, so our goal is to stand out by making each program feel like an event and a chance to be part of a national conversation."
The thinking is similar at
Its appeal to in-demand talents is a big plus of the closed-end mini, execs say. "Top of the Lake," from Oscar winner Jane Campion, fielded
Sigourney Weaver top-lined
Television Academy Vice President of Awards John Leverence says he is not bothered by the blurring of lines. "It's indicative of the creative evolution you're seeing on television every night. You have sophisticated writers and producers who are bending and morphing the conventions." The rules allow producers to choose the category in which they submit.
FX President John Landgraf, poised to launch an offshoot channel, FXM, devoted to minis and limited series, sees the long-form resurgence as driven by "the fact that we're hearing a lot of really great story pitches that are ideally suited for it, from gifted actors and filmmakers who aren't keen to work in a situation where they'd have to commit for six or seven years."
"There's a whole new sophisticated, adult sensibility that is informing these projects," says Landgraf, describing plans to produce at least four minis or limited series a year, beginning with a 10-parter inspired by the Oscar-winning movie