The most exciting part of any awards show is watching all the micro-expressions play out across the faces of the nominees as each winner is announced. The Emmy Awards are trying ridiculously, maybe even absurdly, hard to preserve that experience in the midst of a pandemic. According to Variety, which spoke to two of the TV-awards show’s executive producers, Reginald Hudlin and Ian Stewart, they’re working to find a way to go live with all the night’s nominees as the ceremony airs. That means trying to set up “as many as 140 live feeds” that would connect into a control room at Staples Center, where the event will be based. And because that’s not ambitious enough already, the producers are also aiming to have professional cameras and camera operators on-site with those nominees to capture things in the highest quality, so people aren’t just using FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom like this is any old COVID press appearance. “We’re not trying to make the Zoomies, we’re trying to make the Emmys,” Stewart told Variety, in a sentence that would have made no sense before this awards season.
The producers acknowledged that they may have to compromise on those plans in some cases — the nominees may be in different time zones, strictly quarantined for whatever reason, or in a production bubble filming something — but that’s the general gist of what the show is shooting for right now. The broadcast is set to air on September 20 at 8 p.m., hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. There will be an in-person element at Staples Center itself — no audience, according to Variety, but some presenters may appear there, and there may be a few musical numbers on-site. They’re also figuring out how to get the statues delivered to the winners, after “one idea, of having cars race to winners’ homes to slide them an Emmy statue, was ultimately nixed.” Please do imagine what comedic gold someone like Catherine O’Hara could mine from a Postmates-style Emmy delivery, though.
Finally, the nominees and winners in the less popular categories are being left out of the high-tech shenanigans. Per Variety, the Creative Arts Emmys, which cover a lot of the technical, guest-acting, animation, and short-form awards, are asking their nominees to send in pretaped acceptance speeches and are planning to air only the winners’. Someone else, however, should compile all the pretaped acceptance speeches of those who didn’t win into the only Quibi series we’d be excited to watch.
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