The Emmy Awards, a show that involves corralling hundreds of the most famous people in the world into one room, is a tough draw on a normal night, so you might assume that pulling it off during a remote, pandemic-mandated quarantine might be kind of a shitshow. Luckily, executive producers Ian Stewart and Reginald Hudlin are on the job, and a new interview with Variety reveals that, well, yeah it actually will be kind of a shitshow, but an expertly-coordinated shitshow with an unprecedented amount of moving parts.
For one, the production crew—including host Jimmy Kimmel—will be working out of Los Angeles’ Staples Center, as opposed to the ceremony’s regular home, the Microsoft Theater. Not only does the stadium’s size allow room to maneuver under COVID protocols, but it can also house the signal strength to allow for up to 140 live feeds at once.
“One is that it’s so large that the crew can work safely under COVID-safe protocols and be at the appropriate distance from each other,” Hudlin said. “Because obviously the most important thing is safety first. The second part is, this show will need an unbelievable number of wiring connections in and out, because the nominees are not going to be there. So we’re going to take cameras to where they are. And the number of feeds that that requires is so massive that we need a facility like the Staples Center, which is used to having that much signal from reporters covering sports to handle the kind of in and outputs that it requires.”
Kimmel will be working from the stage, but the nominees will be staying at home. The task of handing out a night’s worth of statues to a socially distanced audience was simple for Stewart: “We’ve got to go and find them.”
“This will all depend on the comfort level of the people at the other end, but we’ve got to go and find them,” Stewart said. “They 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. It doesn’t really matter, wherever they feel comfortable. But we want to bring every nominee that we can logistically, live into the show.”
Yes, that also means having around 140 camera crews in roughly 140 different locations. To avoid any day-of issues, the producers are looking to avoid software like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet.
“We’re not trying to make the Zoomies, we’re trying to make the Emmys,” Stewart said. “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. That’s our starting point.”
Tragically, the interview does note that the idea of “having cars race to winners’ homes to slide them an Emmy statue” was “ultimately nixed”, robbing us of the greatest behind-the-scenes documentary of all time. For more on this year’s Emmy Awards, here is the full list of nominees and our breakdown of the biggest snubs and surprises.