Buffy the Vampire Slayer has always waged an uphill battle for Emmy recognition. But now, not only does the UPN sleeper have to convince members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences that it's more than a freak show about vampires and demons and ghouls (oh my!), it apparently must also remind the Academy that it even exists! When ATAS sent out nomination ballots earlier this month, there was a glaring omission in the list of potential contenders in the drama writing category: Buffy's sublime musical episode, "Once More with Feeling," penned — punch lines, lyrics and all — by series creator Joss Whedon. What the hellmouth is going on here?

Human error was apparently to blame, but an ATAS spokesperson insists the problem has since been resolved. "We sent out a notification to the voters, which allowed them to cast their vote [for 'Once More with Feeling'] almost immediately," the rep tells TV Guide Online. "It was basically a supplement to the ballot. The situation was rectified ASAP and there were no repercussions from it."

Yeah, right. Those close to the situation say the snafu will likely cost Whedon whatever chance he had of getting noticed by voters. (The glitch will not impact Buffy in other categories, such as best drama series, nor will it hinder lead actress hopeful Sarah Michelle Gellar.) "Anybody who's going to get the ballot [will] make their initial picks and send it in," suggests a source at Fox, Buffy's production company. "There's always going to be a percentage of people who are not going to take the time to do what the postcard says, which is, 'Whoops, there was a mistake. Please consider ["Once More with Feeling"], and if you want to vote for it, we'll change your ballot.'"

Worse, even Buffy's code-cracking Scooby gang would have a tough time deciphering the addendum that the Academy mailed out, says goldderby.com award-show guru Tom O'Neil. "It entailed such an extraordinary effort that it was unlikely the voters would do it even if they loved the episode. So, it definitely curses its chances."