Emmy producers offer glimpse of tonight’s show

(Executive Producers Ian Stewart and Reginald Hudlin take us behind the scenes)

While everyone always looks forward to seeing celebrities wearing beautiful gowns during the the Emmy Awards, this year’s live event won’t have a red carpet with hundreds of photographers or fans screaming from the bleachers. Covid-19 has greatly impacted Hollywood, which is why the nominees will be accepting their awards from their own homes. 

Veteran executive producers Reginald Hudlin and Ian Stewart have been working tirelessly for tonight’s broadcast, to make sure the unique awards event will be presented as seamlessly as possible.. 

“We’ve all done some of the biggest award shows ever, but none of us have done anything on this scale before,” acknowledged Hudlin. “And we’ve learned. We’ve watched all of the other virtual programming that’s been happening since March of this year, and we’ve seen the evolution and the improvements.”

He continued: “We’ve learned a lot from our colleagues out in the production world, and we’ve learned ourselves, as we’ve been doing virtual shows. But the idea that we are going to have 130 cameras all over the world ‑‑ New York, Los Angeles, Fayetteville, Connecticut, London, Toronto, Tel Aviv, Berlin….we have so many feeds coming in, going out, that the Staples Center was the only facility that had the resources to handle all of that signal going back and forth.”

Hudlin even considered recreating a red carpet pre-Emmys show, with the nominees and presenters.

“We had thought seriously about doing a red carpet show.  We actually brainstormed a bunch of ideas that we were very excited about, but we realized we would have to not only do the three‑hour broadcast but also produce the preshow,” he noted.

“And we thought, you know, given the scope of the challenge of doing the main show, maybe an additional hour is not something at least for this year,” Hudlin said. “So we begged off of that, but we hope that the home fashions will make up for what we won’t get in a red carpet show.”

Even though this year’s Emmys event is a bit of a “logistical nightmare,” the dynamic producing duo are committed to giving viewers and optimum experience watching the awards, which is in its 72nd year.

“We really are trying to make something that’s the highest‑quality sound, highest‑quality picture,” said Hudlin. 

“At the same time, it’s pretty much fully assembled so, when the nominee receives it, they only have to plug in a few things. And so there’s a ring light.  There’s a laptop.  There’s a boom mike. There’s a camera with the same resolution ‑‑ I used those same cameras shooting my latest movie…it’s still in the home or the backyard or the garage or wherever the nominee happens to be, at the bar. They are really going to be our partners in this process.” 

Still the producers believe that even with all the potential challenges, the Emmys will be an upbeat, entertaining night.

“It’s sort of like walking a tightrope, and you know you are not supposed to look down because, apparently, if you walk a tightrope and you look down, you fall off!” Stewart quipped.  “But you do glance down, and there’s no safety net.  So you are, like, ‘What could possibly go wrong?!’”

Hudlin and Stewart know that even if there are many snafus, the popular talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, will be able to smooth things over as much as possible.

“Things aren’t going to work perfectly all the time, and you think that’s, sort of, part of the endearment of all of it that we are going to try,” Stewart enthused. “We are going to try our best.  And the good thing about that is that we’ve got Jimmy Kimmel who loves live TV and loves chaos in live TV.  I think he’s actually hoping things do go wrong, to tell you the truth!”

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Fans can also expect a lot of laughs and some amusing moments!

“What we’ve tried to do is to make it into a fun thing to do,” noted Stewart. “It’s not stuffy.  It’s not staged. We know that people, for instance, are having their own Emmys pajamas made, etc. We are trying to make it a very loose feel.”

The producers have talked to every nominee to better explain their vision for the show. 

While initially some of the celebrities were initially “very apprehensive” about having cameras in their houses, they were soon inspired by what tonight’s environment will be like.

“A lot of people, rather than go off and say ‘I don’t want to do that,’ are the opposite– they say, ‘That’s fun.’ One person said, ‘I can bring my dogs to the Emmys.  God helped me do that.’”

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Susan L. Hornik is an active contributor to Los Angeles Times, Grammy.comShondaland.com, InStyle, SFGate, LA Weekly, Irvine Weekly, MensHealth.comAARP.org, Los Angeles Blade, Washington Blade, Industrym.com.com, Videoage, Alo, Discover Hollywood