We’re less than a month away from the biggest night in television, but this year’s Emmy Awards ceremony is going to look drastically different from years past due to the enduring coronavirus pandemic. Host Jimmy Kimmel and the dedicated production team behind the usually-glamorous event are certain that the 2020 Emmys will maintain the show’s standards, but a Variety story detailing new plans for the show make me think that we may be tuning into a real-life disaster.
In an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus from spreading amongst the stars, the Emmys will be held virtually. Rather than being filmed in its usual venue at Hollywood’s Microsoft Theatre, the center of production will be across the street at the Staples Center because the arena has a greater technological capacity. The massive facilities at the Staples Center will allow the Emmys team will to set up equipment that broadcasts live streams from celebrity homes across the world.
That's right — the Emmys intends to keep this thing as live as possible. To do that, production plans on sending cameras and camera operators to all 140 nominees and directing each live feed back to the Staples Centers to be broadcast nationally. Like, every single one.
“This will all depend on the comfort level of the people at the other end, but we’ve got to go and find them,” explained Ian Stewart, the president of the production company executing this year's Emmys, in conversation with Variety. “They might be at home, they might be in the garden, might be in a hotel, they might be standing on the side of the street. It doesn’t really matter, wherever they feel comfortable. But we want to bring every nominee that we can logistically, live into the show.”
If it sounds like a terrible idea, it's because it probably is. But the plan gets even wilder. Say, for instance, Mark Ruffalo has some trouble with his camera the day of the show — I adore him, but he absolutely seems like the type — the Emmys would be cool with having one of his family members operating the broadcast equipment instead of sending a professional in to run things. All in the name of not busting a quarantine bubble and avoiding Zoom.
“We’re not trying to make the Zoomies, we’re trying to make the Emmys,” Stewart said. “So one of the things we are trying to do is get the highest-end kit to wherever that person is on whatever level of comfort they have. The best thing for us is to have very high-end cameras, with a person operating them in somebody’s house or wherever they are. That’s our starting point.”
Also extremely awkward is the fact that there clearly won't be a red carpet at this year's show. While the Emmys are obviously a celebration of excellence on television, many viewers are tuning in specifically to play fashion police. It's an awards show — folks want to see extravagant gowns and sharp tuxes and chat shit about the stars who didn't try hard enough! But this year, the dress code for the Hollywood event is pretty much nonexistent. The Emmys production team is calling it "come as you are, but make an effort," so I'm predicting a lot of designer sweats.
To make things even more chaotic, the plan for the event apparently changes every day. The Emmys production team is being very experimental with the show because it's the first of its kind, but that means that there might also not be a set game plan until the day that the Emmys air on September 20.
“We start every day by reinventing the show,” admitted executive producer Reginald Hudlin. “And then by the end of the day we rip it all down and then we start again the next day. I sound like I’m joking, but I’m kind of not. You may be wondering, ‘Reggie, aren’t you’re very close to show time to not be certain?’ Yes, we know!”
This seems...messy, to say the least. Which is why I can't wait to watch it unfold. Tune in on September 20 to see how the Emmys production team pulls it together for the big day.