Unpredictability is the theme of the 2020 Emmys. In fact, the show is promoting itself as "one unpredictable night," which is really saying something after everything that's happened in the past six months.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards will be a virtual ceremony airing live Sunday, September 20. It's not the first 2020 awards show to declare that the show must go on. The BET Awards and MTV VMAs also went live with a socially distant broadcast that didn't lack in memorable moments. Seriously, how will anyone compete with Lady Gaga's pandemic appropriate wardrobe?
However, the Emmys is taking a novel approach to its ceremony by keeping the best in TV as far away from one another as possible. "On TV's biggest night, we're not taking any chances," is the tagline for this year's show. Case in point: this year's poster features host Jimmy Kimmel standing six-feet away from a life-size Emmy statue.
So how will this awards show bring us together while keeping everyone apart? Hopefully, that will all become a little clearer once you read our handy guide to this year's Emmys.
Who is the 2020 Emmys host?
After going host-less last year, the Emmys have brought Jimmy Kimmel back for this socially distanced show. It marks his third time hosting, his first since 2016. Of course, this year will be quite different than any of those gigs. Even Kimmel seems unsure of what will happen the night of. "How will we pull it off this year?" he asked in the show's first promo. "I don't know."
Jokes aside, executive producer Reggie Hudlin told Variety, "Jimmy loves to work live, and we love to work live. This is a show that will still very much be, whenever and however possible, a live show."
That might be easier said than done. "There’s a lot of challenges that come with doing a live show in a COVID environment," Hudlin admitted. "But we’re not running from those problems, we’re embracing them.”
In an interview with Variety, Kimmel sounded confident that they would be able to handle any challenges that come their way. After all, he was the host of the Oscars when the infamous Moonlight Best Picture mix-up happened.
"We know what’s going to happen [at this year’s Emmys]. I mean, we don’t know if our connections are going to hold off but other than that, we know what’s gonna happen," he said. "I guess the only thing that would be comparable is if our Wifi cuts out and I have to stand there and talk for three hours.” That would definitely help it live up to the "one unpredictable night" moniker!
Where are the 2020 Emmys?
Kimmel will host the show live from a stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but he'll be there all by himself. There will be no audience in attendance. “They picked the biggest possible venue for the smallest possible show,” Kimmel told Variety. “We’re doing the show from no place to no one."
In a promo, the awards show promised the show would feature "138 stars from 114 locations across 10 countries." They'll do this by taking the show on the road, bringing cameras to where this year's nominees are. The show's executive producer Ian Stewart told Variety that there will be as many as 140 live feeds coming into the Emmy control room.
Nominees "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," Stewart said. They just want to "bring every nominee that we can logistically, live into the show.”
If that sounds like a logistical nightmare, well, it might be! Variety has already called the choice "bold," which might be shorthand for "hot mess." Let's be honest, though, that might make this year's show better than ever.
At the very least, it will be very different, which Stewart told Variety is a good thing. It’s "all available to be blown up, quite frankly," he said of the usual Emmy format "because awards have been the same way for many, many years.” This might be a step towards some real change for years to come. "Once you say the world is your studio, then you can do some inventive things," he said.
Is there an Emmys red carpet this year?
To keep everyone safe, there will be no red carpet or awards pre-show this year. This means Emmys fashion might look a bit different. In a letter to the nominees, the producers said, "Our informal theme for the night is 'come as you are, but make an effort!'"
That means some nominees might be dressed in the usual designer duds, while others may choose to wear their pjs. Let's hope someone goes with the best of both worlds: designer pjs.
Who are the Emmys presenters in 2020?
This year's more relaxed Emmys will feature Gabrielle Union, Issa Rae, black-ish's Anthony Anderson, football player J.J. Watt, America Ferrera, Lena Waithe, and Oprah Winfrey. The broadcast will also include a special performance by H.E.R. during the "In Memoriam" montage segment.
Who is nominated for 2020 Emmys?
This year's nominees include old favorites like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Schitt's Creek, Succession, and Ozark, along with newbies like The Morning Show, The Mandalorian, and Dead To Me.
HBO's Watchmen received the most nominations with 26 including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Regina King. This year Black actors earned a record number of nominations, including Zendaya, who earned her first nomination with Euphoria. Tyler Perry will be honored with the Governors Award.
While a lot of things are different his year, one thing stayed the same. No one, not even the producers of the show, know who won the award until the envelopes are opened. Turns out, the accountants who tabulate the winners would not skirt the rules, even in an unprecedented year like this one. “We thought maybe this year was an extraordinary situation, but unfortunately there’s no leeway on that," Stewart said. "We will find out when everyone else finds out. Which is the right way to do it, it’s just annoying.”
Where are the Emmys airing?
You can find out the winners right alongside the showrunners when the Emmys air live on ABC at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET. You can also stream the show on Hulu with Live TV.
How are the Emmy's handling COVID-19?
Safety is the show's number one priority, which is why they decided to broadcast from the Staples Center rather than the Emmys usual home of the Microsoft Theatre. The Staples Center, which is across the street from the Microsoft Theatre, is "so large that the crew can work safely under COVID-safe protocols and be at the appropriate distance from each other,” Hudlin told Variety.
The show is also working with nominees to make sure they feel safe with a camera person coming into their residence to film them for the show. Variety reported that this may mean someone within a nominee's bubble may operate the professional camera instead. What they want to avoid is using those video conferencing apps we've all been using for work. “We’re not trying to make the Zoomies, we’re trying to make the Emmys,” Stewart said.
For those who are on tighter quarantine guidelines, due to upcoming production schedules or health concerns, Emmys reps say they will find other ways to include them in the broadcast. That's kind of part of the fun of this whole thing. They hope this format will encourage people to be creative or have a little fun with their acceptance speeches. “So often when people win they award, they dedicate it to their kids. Well, your kids can be right there with you," Stewart said. "Maybe you’re accepting the award from their bedroom. This is a chance to reinvent every aspect of it. We really want people to think about that.”
Kimmel agreed. "I hope it’s not the typical ‘Sit in front of your monitor, with a carefully selected assortment of books behind you’ situation," he told Variety days before the show. "I hope that people’s families are going crazy when they win.”