Oscar 2015: Critics Choice Awards Merge Film and TV

The Critics’ Choice Awards are combining film and TV honors into one ceremony, which will expand to a three-hour telecast on Sunday–a shift from its recent Thursday night slot.

The announcement of the Critics’ Choice shifts was made Wednesday morning at a breakfast at the W Hotel in Hollywood.

The Critics’ Choice Awards will air January 17 simultaneously on A&E, Lifetime and LMN. The three-hour event will be preceded by one-hour red-carpet coverage.

In the past, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards included 28 categories, while the Critics’ Choice TV Awards had 23. That’s a lot of prizes in one evening so, as in the past, some winners will be announced during that red-carpet segment. (Formerly, the TV and movie ceremonies were each two hours.)

The prizes will revert to their original name, the Critics’ Choice Awards. The Broadcast Film Critics Assn. was begun in 1995 and consists of nearly 300 reviewers from TV, radio and online. The Broadcast Television Journalists Assn. was begun a few years ago as an offshoot, with its first TV ceremony held in June 2011. That was about 100 voters. In the new configuration, movie critics will vote on the film awards, while TV reviewers will vote on TV.

The announcement of the changes was made Wednesday morning, with BFCA/BTJA president Joey Berlin smiling that “our voters are savvier and less star-struck than our foreign counterparts.” The 73rd Golden Globes will be presented Jan. 10, with the CCMA airing one week later.

Like every other year-end award, the Critics’ Choices are touted as bellwethers of Oscar, and they actually have a better track record than most. For the all-important best-pic race, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards matched Oscar in 12 of the past 16 years. However, last year’s Oscar winner “Birdman” was shut out of the top win as the CCMAs honored “Boyhood” for best drama and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” as comedy.

In overall numbers, CCMA comparisons to the Academy Awards are limited because the Critics’ Circle has so many different categories, including several for action films and for sci-fi pics. The Critics’ Choice also offer six artisan category, which many other critics groups don’t.

In the recent past, the Critics’ Choice TV Awards were presented as a harbinger of Emmy, with this year’s ceremony held May 31. On the film side, the ceremony has traditionally been held on the same day as announcement of Academy Award nominations, meaning BFCA could brag about the first public appearance for newly-anointed Oscar contenders. But journos and strategists grumbled about the exceedingly long day, so they get a reprieve with the Sunday slot.

In the January-February timeframe, many guilds and organizations give out both film and TV awards, but the latter are always overshadowed by the movie honors, since these prizes are part of a long buildup to the Oscar ceremony.

For planners of awards events, it’s one more adjustment. When Oscar moved its ceremonies a month earlier, starting with the Feb. 29, 2004, rites, it required a rethink from the guilds, awards-giving organizations and strategists about their own ceremonies as they tried to find a date and venue with minimal competition.