The producers of this year's pandemic-impacted Emmy Awards ceremony are avoiding prerecorded video and such web platforms as Zoom and Skype, and attempting instead to place broadcast-quality cameras for remote live feeds in about 140 locations.
"We're not trying to make the Zoomies, we're trying to make the Emmys," executive producer Ian Stewart of the company Done+Dusted told Variety in an interview published Monday. "So one of the things we are trying to do is get the highest-end kit to wherever that person is on whatever level of comfort they have. The best thing for us is to have very high-end cameras, with a person operating them in somebody's house or wherever they are."
Fellow executive producer Reginald Hudlin, the filmmaker and Academy Award-winning producer, described the daunting logistics, saying, "There are people who are nominated who live in Los Angeles, who live in London, who live in Berlin and Tel Aviv, so we're looking through all those questions and all those challenges and trying to figure it out."
One factor was the nominees' comfort level, said Hudlin, 58. "Do you want someone ringing your doorbell? We're coming up with a lot of interesting possible solutions. … Once you say the world is your studio, then you can do some inventive things."
The nominees, said Stewart, "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 … wherever they feel comfortable. But we want to bring every nominee that we can, logistically, live into the show." As well, said Hudlin, "So often when people win ... [an] award, they dedicate it to their kids. Well, your kids can be right there with you."
The two and host and fellow executive producer Jimmy Kimmel had announced in a letter to nominees last month that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Emmy ceremony was "still going to be [the] TV industry's biggest night out … but we'll come to you!" They added, "We're going to make you look fabulous — we're exploring the cutting edge of technology to allow [the use of] good cameras and lighting…."
Instead of the Microsoft Theatre of years past, Kimmel will host the audience-free live show from Los Angeles' nearby Staples Center, a much larger space, so that the production crew "can work safely under COVID-safe protocols and be at the appropriate distance from each other," Hudlin said. As well, the "unbelievable number of wiring connections" necessary for the live remote feeds was better served at Staples, "which is used to having that much signal from reporters covering sports. ..."
"We start every day by reinventing the show," Hudlin said. "And then by the end of the day we rip it all down and then we start again the next day. I sound like I'm joking, but I'm kind of not. You may be wondering, 'Reggie, aren't you very close to show time to not be certain?' Yes, we know!"
The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards will air Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. on ABC.