Latent Racism? NSA-Level Secrecy? Alec Baldwin? 2013 Emmy Burning Questions Answered!

(Robert Voets/Warner Brothers)

How common is it for actors to go from winning an Emmy to not even nominated the following year, such as Jon Cryer and Eric Stonestreet ? — Nanty R., Washington

"The performer nominations from year to year are freshly derived from the votes of an ever-changing jury of about 1,700 performers evaluating the new work within the new eligibility year," says Dr. John Leverance, senior vice president of Awards at the TV Academy. Ergo, he says, "anything can happen, but what does happen is always unique to the year. This is a zero-sum competition."

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How does the TV Academy keep the Emmy results secret every year in an industry full of leakers? — C.W., Rhode Island

By going through some pretty intense measures, courtesy of tabulation firm Ernst & Young. According to firm partner Andy Sale, the company requires any employee involved in the tallying process to sign a letter acknowledging that early disclosure of the voting results, or tampering with the ballots, is actually a violation of the law — the Communications Act of 1934, to be precise.

The ballots are mailed or delivered directly to Sale's office and handled by few folks from that point on; only two or three people are trusted with actually printing and stuffing the official envelopes with the winner names. Once those packets are filled, Sale tells me, they're guarded by a company official around the clock.

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(It's a similar story with the nominations. Once the votes are tallied on a few special folks inside the vaunted halls of the TV Academy know which names will be called early nomination morning.)

As for transporting the envelopes, Ernst & Young often employs creative methods to ensure that the results arrive at an awards venue intact.

"One year we transported envelopes to a venue in a laundry sack," Sale tells me.

And, of course, there are those handcuffs — the ones that Ernst & Young officials are seen wearing as they parade down the red carpet with that iconic briefcase every year on Emmy night. (Sometimes the envelopes are actually in that case; other times, they're elsewhere. Secrecy is security, you might say.) Sale tells me that sometimes the handcuffs are fake, and sometimes not.

"It just depends on whether the envelopes are actually in the case that year."

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