What to Expect from Tonight’s ‘Pandemic Emmys’

From the ”virtual” red carpet to critics’ predicted winners, here’s a peek at an unusual awards show

The Emmys are tonight, but with so much going on at the moment—wildfires, a global pandemic, an election season that keeps getting more and more gruesome—the awards seem like they’ve barely been on anyone’s radar. And the weird nature of the show probably isn’t helping. The 72nd Emmy Awards, broadcast Sunday night on ABC, will have no live red carpet, no live audience, no pre parties, no after parties—this is a pandemic Emmys like no other.

Last year’s host-less show was a ratings disaster, so Jimmy Kimmel was brought on as master of ceremonies. As he told Variety, “This year we kept the host and got rid of the audience. Everyone says, ‘These shows are all the same.’ This one is definitely not going to be the same.” While Kimmel will be almost all alone with a socially distant crew, broadcasting live from the Staples Center, he dropped some hints about possible celebrity guests on stage with him. Given his longtime faux frenemy schtick with Matt Damon, he’s likely to be one of them. An alpaca made an appearance at rehearsals on Friday.

How can winners accept their awards spontaneously when they won’t be in the theater with a presenter? Virtually, of course. A hundred and thirty cameras have been set up all over the world—New York, L.A., London, Toronto, Tel Aviv, Berlin—to document any winner whose name happens to be called. Producers Reginald Hudlin and Ian Stewart admit it’s been something of a technical nightmare for the crew and the actors, and no one knows exactly how it will all go.

And how do stars dress for a big night when the big night will be spent on the sofa? “We stylists are looking toward at-home gowns, silk pajamas, and even Tom Ford sweats,” one celeb stylist with several nominee clients confided to us. “Some actors will be at home on the couch with family and dogs, some sitting in bed, some in hotel rooms. It’s not going to be glam, glitz and gowns, that’s for sure.

Jill Chayet, founder of the Bluprint PR agency, says very little jewelry was pulled from her showroom—or anywhere. Few of the male noms even hired stylists for tuxes or designer suits, we heard from top men’s stylist Ilaria Urbinati. But of course, nominee Billy Porter never fails to turn it out, so we can count on him for some fabulous flamboyance. One stylist confided, “We are highly aware people are suffering from economic and health crises, so it would be bad taste for stars to do it up too much. However, don’t expect them to keep their political views of the election low key.”

Spencer Spaulding, co-found of Forward Artists, which reps some of the top celeb hair, makeup, and wardrobe stylists, says, “With the Emmy’s officially kicking off an unprecedented award season, it will be interesting to see how the show is presented, when it comes to the show and the fashion, most likely setting the tone through Oscars. With a number of factors contributing to fewer stylist bookings this season, health and safety remain our top priority. The beauty, fashion, and entertainment industries are incredibly resilient—and we remain optimistic things will continue to bounce back.”

The networks that always do red carpet preshows have drummed up something to feed our hunger for fashion and escapism: ABC will have a virtual red carpet with a 90-minute live countdown show streaming on ABC News Live and Emmys.com. E! will kick off its Countdown to the Red Carpet three hours before the show as usual, even without a red carpet. According to Variety, the network has built a stage on the Universal lot for a more authentic red-carpet show feel. They report: “The red carpet specials will still include plenty of talk about the nominees, as well as interviews with celebrities—but done remotely. That has actually allowed the shows’ producers to better plan out their ‘red carpet’ specials, which normally are much more on the fly, as stars pop up unannounced and producers have to juggle the crush of talent as they head down the carpet.”

Who won Creative Arts Emmys this week?

From Monday to this past Thursday, the Creative Arts Emmys were held virtually, and the winners are a prognosticator of Sunday night’s winners. Disney+’s The Mandalorian, with 15 overall nominations, picked up seven Emmy’s including Visual Effects and Cinematography, which put it neck and neck with HBO’s Watchmen. RuPaul’s Drag Race racked up five wins for VH1. Short-form digital network Quibi picked up its very first Emmys, for Lawrence Fishburne and Jasmine Cephas Jones, stars of Quibi’s #FreeRayshawn. Maya Rudolph picked up her very first Emmy, for her role in Netflix’s Big Mouth. Schitt’s Creek picked up the award for Best Comedy Casting, while HBO’s Succession took Best Drama Casting. Watchmen, Euphoria, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel took home statuettes for music, and Mrs. Maisel picked up a makeup award. The Crown and Watchmen got costume kudos.

Who’s expected to take home statuettes on Sunday night?

Because of the pandemic, the networks dramatically pared back their usual campaigns, but many of the same shows ended up being faves when the nominations were announced. HBO’s Succession is expected to produce an Outstanding Lead Actor winner in either Jeremy Strong or Brian Cox. Ozark star Laura Linney is the one many critics predict will take home Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series, but you can’t count out Oscar winner Olivia Colman’s performance season three of Netflix’s The Crown. Colman’s co-star, Helena Bonham Carter, is most likely to get Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. And while Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is perennially popular, Schitt’s Creek’s Catherine O’Hara might steal the gold from Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan, as the last season of Schitt’s Creek was its most popular. In fact, Dan Levy will likely take Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy.

And what will the winners be doing after the show? Not dashing to their limos for party gridlock like usual. They’ll be doing what we’ll all be doing: grabbing the clicker to see what’s on next. If you need a little more action before you switch to Netflix, turn in to Entertainment Tonight’s live after show, in which they’ll be Zooming into the winners’ homes to keep the star quotient going.

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