Award shows in the virtual age

Aaliyah Motiwala, Staff Writer

“And the Emmy goes to…” 

As anxious fans wait for the moment their favorite actor’s name is called, tech teams and directors shuffle scurrilously behind cameras to make sure not one moment is missed in the virtual airing. This year’s Emmy Awards carried on even in the face of a worldwide pandemic. There was no red carpet, no guest appearances, and certainly no crowds. There was only a screen and a couch from where fans watched the award ceremony right from their own living rooms. Standing alone on stage, Jimmy Kimmel hosted this year’s Emmy Awards from the Staples Center in LA.

“I gotta tell you, just going into the Staples Center was kind of depressing, even though it was necessary for the safety of everybody,” says co-writer of the Emmy’s, Molly McNeary in an LA times article. “We still wanted to have that feeling of a live show and with audience reaction.” In the preparing weeks before the big show, producers spent hours trying to find the best audience recordings and reactions to pull from clips to have somewhat comforting sounds in the empty stadium.

Worried that the show being virtual would dull it’s impact, the Emmy organizers and producers went to extreme lengths to make sure that they would be able to capture every moment of the nominees evening that day. Hundreds of cameras were set up in the homes, backyards, and even hotels of the actors and actresses, where they were rehearsing what they would say if they had the honor of receiving the Emmy. Whether or not kids and family of the nominee would be on camera was their preference. 

The awards were delivered live, in person to the winner’s homes. As the winners opened their doors, they were greeted by someone in a hazmat tux. Yes, someone in a full hazmat suit hand delivered the statues. “ It was important to us that people got to hold the statue. . . we didn’t want to just say we’re going to drop it in the mail for you months from now,” says McNeary. “Every nominee had someone in a hazmat suit “stalking” their house.”

Behind the scenes, Kimmel only had 25% of his staff with him which had everyone working tirelessly over hours to get the show prepared in time. While everyone sat back eating popcorn, the directors, producers, and all other backstage personnel worked until they could no longer see the very show live streaming in front of them. 

“I think it’s always been assumed that this was going to have to be a virtual show,” the executive producer of the Emmys, Reginald Hudlin, said in a Daily News article. “The reality is, these types of shows are going to be virtual for a while now.” Whether or not this is pleasing to the fans, it is for the safety of everyone. 

They were able to flawlessly execute what  has never been done before. The Emmy Awards, but virtual. “That’s not an easy thing for anyone to do. . . I think it’s pretty incredible,” says McNeary.