Jimmy Kimmel will host the ceremony as viewers â and the nominees â tune in from home.
Catherine OâHara won best actress in a comedy series for her role as the wacky matriarch in âSchittâs Creek.â It was her first Emmy win since 1982.
The 72nd Emmy Awards on Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern time looked nothing like the earlier ceremonies celebrating the yearâs achievements in television and streaming.
Red carpet? Canceled. Actors seated shoulder to shoulder in an auditorium as the envelopes are unsealed? Nope.
Jimmy Kimmel kicked off the ceremony from a nearly empty Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
In the opening moments, he appeared to deliver his jokes to a live audience â but it was just footage of crowds from past broadcasts that made it seem as if Oprah Winfrey, Michael Douglas and Jon Hamm were laughing at his remarks.
Kimmel eventually gave up the bit to reveal that he was facing rows of empty seats, some of them filled with cardboard cutouts of television stars.
More than 100 nominees watched his monologue â and would soon broadcast themselves â from locations ranging from Berlin to Fayetteville, Ga.
In an effort to make the broadcast go as smoothly as possible, the Television Academy has sent a kit to each nominee with instructions on how to put together a D.I.Y. studio. It comes complete with a ring light, a microphone, a laptop and a camera. After that, itâs up to the nominees and their Wi-Fi signals to do the dirty work of beaming live images to viewersâ screens.
âWe hope thereâs not a major crash,â said Guy Carrington, an executive producer of the Emmys, in an interview.
About a dozen presenters and entertainers will join Kimmel on a stage built above the Staples Center basketball court. The show was moved from its usual spot, the Microsoft Theater, to the home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, because the arena has the technological wherewithal to accommodate dozens of remote feeds.
âWeâve all done some of the biggest award shows ever but none of us have done anything on this scale before,â said Reginald Hudlin, an executive producer.
In addition to tech challenges, the ceremony is likely to include pointed acceptance speeches. Against the backdrop of a searing presidential campaign, winners may go into issues including a national reckoning on race relations and police brutality; a pandemic that has killed close to 200,000 Americans; and a changing climate that contributed to the wildfires that ravaged the West Coast.
The ceremony usually takes three hours, but the producers were wary of pinpointing a running time.
âWho knows?â said Ian Stewart, an executive producer. âIt might be way under. It might be way over. It might be on time. I think thatâs unlikely.â
HBOâs operatic drama, âSuccession,â is the favorite for the most prestigious award, best drama. This chronicle of a cutthroat clan won best drama honors at the Golden Globes and the Television Critics Association Awards earlier this year, and the showâs creator, Jesse Armstrong, won the Emmy for best drama writing in 2019.
Other contenders have emerged to take the place of âGame of Thrones,â the HBO epic that won this category a record-tying four times. Netflix has a pair of possible winners in âThe Crownâ and âOzark.â And donât count out the Baby Yoda smash, âThe Mandalorian.â The Disney+ action-adventure series won a number of technical Creative Arts Emmys, which were given out last week, and Television Academy voters do not scrunch their noses at mass entertainment.
The limited series category has become the Emmy ceremonyâs glamour zone, with its big stars and blockbuster budgets. This year, a pair of shows that confronted social issues are in the lead: HBOâs âWatchmenâ and the FX and Hulu mini-series âMrs. America.â
âWatchmen,â Damon Lindelofâs ambitious take of the comic book genre, is the more likely winner. In addition to scoring the most nominations of any series this year, it recently won the Television Critics Association award for best series. At the same event, âMrs. America,â an examination of the battle for the Equal Rights Amendment, was shut out.
Regina King, the star of âWatchmen,â is also favored to beat out Cate Blanchett, the âMrs. Americaâ star, in the category of best actress in a limited series. If King wins, she would take home her fourth Emmy statuette.
In a tale out of recent show-business lore, âBreaking Badâ plodded along on the cable channel AMC for years, receiving critical raves and small ratings. Then reruns started streaming on Netflix, and by time of its final season, millions of viewers started watching âBreaking Badâ on AMC â and it won the best drama Emmy at last.
The Canadian comedy, created by Dan and Eugene Levy, which airs on Pop TV in the United States, had little more than a cult following before Netflix started streaming its past seasons. Now, months after the series finale, âSchittâs Creekâ is a favorite to win best comedy. Last week, the show won best casting for a comedy at the Creative Arts Emmys â and the winner of that award has gone on to win best comedy each of the last five years.
But Television Academy voters adore Amazonâs âThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,â the winner of the best comedy Emmy in 2018. The midcentury romp from Amy Sherman-Palladino had the second most Emmy nominations of any show this year. âInsecure,â the HBO comedy created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore, is also in the running.
Olivia Colman, an Oscar and Golden Globe winner who plays the lead in Netflixâs âThe Crown,â will face off against the four-time Emmy winner Laura Linney, a star of Netflixâs âOzark,â in the best actress category. Other nominees include Jennifer Aniston (âThe Morning Showâ), last yearâs best drama winner, Jodie Comer (âKilling Eveâ), her castmate Sandra Oh, and last yearâs breakout star, Zendaya (âEuphoriaâ).
Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong, who portray the father and son of a feuding dynasty on âSuccession,â will compete against each other in real life as the top contenders for best actor in a drama. If they split the vote, Jason Bateman, a star of âOzark,â could be the beneficiary.
Catherine OâHara and Eugene Levy earned some Emmy love, winning in the lead acting comedy categories for their roles as the husband-and-wife duo in âSchittâs Creek.â The two stars of the series have won Emmys before â but not since the early 1980s, when they were recognized as writers for the work on the groundbreaking Canadian comedy series âSCTV.â
In fact, only a few series have ever swept best comedy and top acting honors in the same year, including â30 Rock,â (Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin) âAll in the Familyâ (Carroll OâConnor, Jean Stapleton) and âThe Dick Van Dyke Showâ (Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore).
Itâs getting hard to remember a time when âSaturday Night Liveâ had fallen out of favor with Emmy voters, as it had for years.
But the recent winning streak of Lorne Michaelsâs NBC juggernaut continues. âS.N.L.â won best sketch variety series for the fourth year in a row, and it swept guest acting honors as well.
Maya Rudolph won best guest actress in a comedy for her depiction of Kamala Harris. And Eddie Murphy was given guest acting honors for his hosting duties on the same episode, in which he reprised vintage characters like Gumby, Buckwheat and Mr. Robinson. It was his first Emmy win. Don Roy King also won for best directing in a variety sketch series for his work on the episode hosted by Murphy.
Cherry Jones (âSuccessionâ) and Ron Cephas Jones (âThis Is Usâ) won the drama guest acting awards. RuPaul, of âRuPaulâs Drag Race,â won best host of a reality series for a fifth time, setting a record in the category.
All of these awards were given out during the weeklong Creative Arts Emmy virtual ceremonies. Now that the technical and guest acting honors are out of the way, âThe Mandalorianâ and âWatchmenâ find themselves tied for the lead in total Emmy wins, with 7 apiece going into Sunday.
In recent years, Netflix and HBO have waged hard-fought battles against each other on the big night, and each has won 19 Emmys so far this week.
For the last 17 years, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver have had a lock on the best variety talk series award, and Oliverâs âLast Week Tonightâ has won the category four years straight.
Trevor Noah, the host of âThe Daily Showâ since 2015, has won over viewers and critics with his remote episodes during the pandemic, particularly for his emphasis on police brutality and race amid nationwide protests after the killing of George Floyd. If Noah wins, it would be a boon to Comedy Central and a boost for a host who once faced skepticism that he could make âThe Daily Showâ his own.
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