“Hopefully we can see some excitement from inside the house, from the families of the people,” Kimmel says. “I hope this is not the typical situation of ‘sitting in front of your monitor with a carefully selected assortment of books behind you’. I hope people’s families go crazy when they win.
In truth, television broadcasting is more ambitious than it looks. And, jokes aside, its addiction to Wi-Fi is only marginal. The show’s producers will send over 140 film crews to various locations, to capture not only the segments of the presenters, but also the acceptance speeches of the winners.
There are eight Australians nominated for 10 Emmy Awards this year: Hannah Gadsby is in two categories for her Netflix special Douglas, just like Antonio Gambale for his work on the Netflix series Unorthodox. Costume designer Justine Seymour is also nominated for her work on Unorthodox. All will be presented to the Creative Arts Emmys, in the week before the main event.
And in prime time Monday night, Emmy aired five Australians for Best Awards of the Year: Hugh Jackman (HBO’s Bad Education) and Cate Blanchett (FX’s Mrs. America) in Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress Sarah Snook (HBO’s Succession) and Toni Collette (Netflix’s Unbelievable) for Outstanding Supporting Actor in Drama and Limited Series respectively, and Tony McNamara (Hulu’s Great) for the exceptional writing of a comedy series.
There is a feeling in Hollywood that this is a year of transitions. Former fringe players Schitt Creek (Pop TV) and What we do in the shadows (FX) entered the category of outstanding comedies. And pieces of the off-piste genre The Mandalorian (Disney +) and Strange things (Netflix) in an exceptional drama.
Both are categories where last year’s winners – Chip bag for comedy series and The iron Throne for drama series – are no longer in contention, leaving the field wide open.
And while it is easy to come to terms with “establishment” nominees such as The wonderful Mrs. Maisel and Calm your enthusiasm (in comedy) and The crown and The Handmaid’s Tale (in the drama), there’s a mood in Hollywood that something leftist could tip the game further.
For the dramatic category, it borders The Mandalorian in a strong position. And in comedy there is an even clearer favorite, Schitt Creek, a somewhat modest comedy that ended its sixth season this year but became the hit of the Covid-19 lockdown. In Australia, it airs on Netflix and ABC.
All four of the show’s lead actors – Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy, and Annie Murphy – are nominated in the acting categories, and the show earned one directorial nomination and two writing nominations.
At last week’s Creative Arts Emmys there were also nominations for casting, contemporary costumes, hair, makeup, picture editing and sound editing.
Whether the show can pull off a clean sweep remains to be seen. Levy (senior) and O’Hara have clear shots to win; None of last year’s main comedy winners (Bill Hader and Phoebe Waller-Bridge) are in contention this year. Levy (junior) and Murphy have the hurdle that, in recent years, has supported the winning comedians (Tony Shalhoub and Alex Borstein) still at stake.
While this year’s Emmys are kind of an unpredictable beast, with few pre-recorded packages according to the producers, by the time they air on Monday, they’ll have been drastically rehearsed, but not in the way you might think.
The Daytime Emmys, which took place in June, took a more careful route and pre-recorded their hosting and presenting segments and acceptance speeches. But more recently, the annual Sports Emmys aired a TV show that is more like what Monday night audiences might see, with live-action Wi-Fi-powered home crosses to the winners.
In a sense, the notion of a “virtual” awards night echoes the cornerstones of such events, including watching a parade of red carpet talent dressed in designer clothes and answering silly questions.
Broadcast producer Ian Stewart is hopeful the winners dress for the occasion, but admits that for 2020 the dress code needs to be much more relaxed.
“Yes [they] want to be in [their] sweating on the sofa is also good, ”Stewart told the trade publication Variety. “It will be a lot more relaxed, a lot more fun, because we’re more together. It will go where it goes.”
What matters, says the Kimmel host, is that he keeps the key Emmys promise: honoring the best work of the previous year on the small screen.
“I want to make sure it’s fulfilling and that they feel like they haven’t been deceived by the full Emmy experience,” Kimmel says. “We want to make him as special as he should be.
“Everything is different. The key for me is to have fun with limits. Turn the negatives into the positives. Everyone says those rewards are all the same. And this one sure won’t be the same.”
AUSTRALIA AT THE EMMYS: THE 2020 FORM GUIDE
Australia put on a tremendous performance for the 72nd annual Emmy Awards, with no less than eight Australians nominated in 10 categories.
Five of those awards go to the Creative Arts Emmys, which take place in the week before the main TV show, and they include Hannah Gadsby, nominated for both Outstanding Variety and Outstanding Writing for Special Variety for Douglas.
Our other two nominees for Creative Arts are Justine Seymour, nominated for Outstanding Contemporary Costumes, and Antonio Gambale, nominated for Outstanding Musical Composition for a Limited Series and Outstanding Original Music on the theme of the main title. The two were nominated for their work on Netflix Unorthodox.
On Monday’s prime-time Emmys, Australia has four named actors – Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Snook and Toni Collette – and writer Tony McNamara.
Jackman is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Category for the HBO Movie Bad Education, in a difficult field that includes Jeremy Irons (Guardians; HBO) and Mark Ruffalo (I know this is true; HBO).
Blanchett is nominated for Best Leading Actress in a Limited Series or Film Category for her work on the FX Series Mrs. America, in the role of conservative personality Phyllis Schlafly. She also faces formidable ground which Shira Haas (Unorthodox; Netflix), Octavia Spencer (Home made; Netflix) and Kerry Washington (Small fires everywhere; Hulu)
Snook and Collette are both nominated in the Supporting Actress categories, where there are more nominees and an even denser field. Snook nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work on HBO Succession, against Helena Bonham Carter (The crown; Netflix), Laura Dern (Big little lies; HBO), Thandie Newton (Westworld; HBO), Meryl Streep (Big little lies; HBO) and others.
Collette is nominated for Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Film category for her work on Netflix Unbelievable, against a field including Uzo Aduba, Margo Martindale and Tracey Ullman (all for Mrs. America; FX) and Jean Smart (Guardians; HBO).
McNamara, who produced and wrote the Hulu series Great, a comedic version of the life of Russian Empress Catherine the Great, is nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, against Dan Levy and David West Read (both for Schitt Creek; Pop) and Sam Johnson, Chris Marcil, Paul Simms and Stefani Robinson (all for What we do in the shadows; FX).
The 72nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards will air Monday, September 21 from 10 a.m. on Fox Arena and broadcast via Foxtel.
Michael Idato is the Culture Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
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