Television was one industry that quickly learned to adapt to the still raging pandemic, but so far there hasn’t too many of one kind of program: awards shows. Though the BET Awards went off largely without a hitch in late August, the Emmys are an affair with even more moving parts. But instead of being a pre-recorded quarantine program, like the Parks and Recreation virtual reunion, they’re going to do it almost entirely live. If that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, well, those behind it agree.
“Things are going to go wrong,” Ian Stewart, one of the show’s producers, told journalists, as per The Wrap. “It’s never been done before… so things aren’t going to work perfectly all the time, and I think that’s part of the endearment of it. We’ve got to try. We’re going to try our best.”
So what exactly is the game plan? It involves what are essentially 130 care packages being sent to the many participants, from nominees to hosts. Inside is camera equipment: cameras, monitors, ring lights, and computers, mailed out to 20 cities in 10 countries. They’ll be at the mercy of not only talent, who will have to learn how to work equipment, but with internet connections, plus the fires that have consumed California of late, which could affect nearby communications towers.
“It’s sort of like trying to watch 130 sports matches at the same time. You have so many things coming in and so many things that can stop coming in,” Stewart said. “These are not places that are wired to do a sports match, they’re wired to be where you have your dinner.”
One person inspiring confidence? The show’s seasoned host, Jimmy Kimmel. “The good thing is,” Stewart said, “We’ve got Jimmy Kimmel, who loves live TV and the chaos of live TV. I think he’s actually hoping things do go wrong, to tell you the truth.”
Whether this turns out to have a hiccup here and there or if it’s a non-stop train wreck that turns off viewers to pandemic awards shows altogether remains to be seen. But Stewart and Hudlin decided to being bold was better than being safe.
“We decided let’s not do the easy route here, the sanitized route here, and do lots of prerecorded things and put them all together, bolt them back to back and put out something that’s sort of generic,” Stewart said. “A stumbling block can be a stepping stone depending how you use it. This is a time to be a bit loose and have some fun… Anything that we can do live, we will do live.”
According to Variety, the epic list of talent booked for the show include [deep breath]: Laverne Cox, Sterling K. Brown, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Count von Count, Jason Bateman, Morgan Freeman, Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, D-Nice, Randall Park, RuPaul, Patrick Stewart and Jason Sudeikis. There will also be appearances from Anthony Anderson, America Ferrera, Issa Rae, Gabrielle Union, J.J. Watt, Lena Waithe and Oprah Winfrey. Hopefully everyone reads the equipment instructions before things start Sunday night.
The 20202 Emmy Awards will air on Sunday, September 20 at 8pm on ABC.