At the PrimeTime Emmy Awards this year, The Crown and Ted Lasso were the big winners and that’s a big accomplishment considering there are now more TV shows in production and on air than we have ever seen or has been created. Some 500 scripted original series are on TV.  The overall big winners: along with those two were Hacks, Mare of Eastown, Last Week Tonight (with John Oliver) The Queen’s Gambit.

Streaming was the story of the day. Stream and you shall win it seems! Since 2017 was when streaming (Hulu) began and this year Netflix and Apple TV+ took award after award; Ted Lasso on Apple TV+ won best comedy, The Crown from Netflix took best drama series and The Queen’s Gambit best limited/anthology series —all from streaming services.  Netflix won 44 Emmy’s from the Primetime Emmy’s and at the earlier presented Creative Arts. Ted Lasso on Apple TV+ and Hacks on HBO Max both took comedy awards.

Other winners: Hamilton took best special (pre-recorded.) NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020 , and VH1, which claimed best competition series for RuPaul’s Drag Race.

THE ONLINE COVID PROTOCOLS BACKFIRE:As far as the show itself - it was wonderful to see everyone back. It felt like Emmy’s past (having covered so many) — just wish the Academy took that leadership role to show the world - that the on set and off - everyone is kept safe - and never a super-spreader breakthrough event  beyond when they leave the parking lot. Kudos to KTLA management for the red carpet mic set up spacing and safety observation of Sam and Jessica. Excellent. Now that is the way to do it.

As it turns out all we saw was allowed. Exemptions are made for celebrities when they are live.

The show itself was so very entertaining and but the lack of visual COVID mitigation efforts was very jarring to the at home audience. What we saw? Screaming, handshaking, kissing, hugging, dancing around, too near one another (a tent yes, but a lack-of-cross-ventilation tent.)

As it turns out - The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences did follow all things it had to do to be COVID complaint, which meant vaccinated attendees negative tests for entrance and a  tent on a deck at L.A. Live rather than inside at the Microsoft...a tightly close-in tent as Seth Rogen said at opening. Rogen came out at the top of the show and delivered some funny setting jokes. He addressed the white elephant in the rooms of viewers saying: “There’s way too many of us in this little room. They said it was outdoors. It’s not.” And “They lied to us. We’re in a hermetically sealed tent right now. I would not have come to this. Why is there a roof? This is insane. … I went from wiping my groceries to having Paul Bettany sneeze in my face. That’s a big week.”

What we found out a day later: All guests were told to wear masks yes, but only in the commercial breaks not while on television. Double vaxxed, negative test, fewer guests than previous shows with no more than four tickets per nomination. There were also fewer journalists on the red carpet due to scaled back credentialed media as another protocol to have less people. Major broadcast outlets were invited as well as a group of print journalists allowed to report in live time (for some reasons that makes CVOID less transmissible when it's live? 🙂 The Academy had said “The health and safety of our nominees is of paramount importance,” the TV Academy said in a statement in August. All that is great. But - be leaders.

There was online backlash to the obvious party scene but the LA County Health officials say no safety violations were made. “Exceptions are made for film, television, and music productions,” the Department of Health said in a press statement, defending the mask-less Emmys; - "additional safety modifications are made for these controlled interactions.” Controlled? Humans with humans. Breathing and screaming.

The city health department pre-approved this type of night of award-giving but watching it well, it was painful and felt like an uniformed-of-the-world-around-it blinded frat party when the parents are away, the kids will play.

Rather -

  • It could have been an opportunity of great leadership and safety
  • Set a leadership example for the entire industry
  • Keep everyone EXTRA safe
  • Gain support of the public around the world for more than just great acting and script writing.

The television and movie industry tend to be on the receiving end criticism (often unfairly)  and often seen as a self-serving industry.

That said: visual protocols would have shown -- 'we respect social distancing ALWAYS -- even when allowed to do otherwise in live shows....we do respect masking indoors ALWAYS  - even when allowed not to when the cameras are on our faces (masks are required for public indoors in L.A. County) -- all to -- keep everyone extra safe in our industry at ALL times in an abundance of caution (as many like to say) -- even -- when -- we -- are partying ourselves (to pat each other on the back)

As a news Emmy award winner myself and 5-time Emmy nominee I can say firsthand -- this type of night was one of the best nights of my life and theirs. It exemplifies and endorses all the hard work, truly culminates ones entire career, and expresses the years of long hours that you gave up so much social life (for these long odd hours) -- but that said -- the Academy should still be a show how much it cares - even - when allowed to do less for productions...a role model for the entire industry and for all productions with audiences gathered to come. This was the first big one doing it as such and if nothing else -- for its own PR and marketing -- because what the audience saw at home did not express self-awareness as an industry as a whole.

We at home knew everyone likely was indeed double vaxxed and needed a negative test to enter (that was common sense) but with Delta spreading in 5 to 10 seconds -- as contagious as smallpox - and many in the industry likely having had their vaccines early one back in February or March 2021 (knowing that Pfizer wanes anywhere from five to six months and even a study showing waning at three months now) means breakthrough cases could be a real possibility post-event and who wants any negativity coming out of the industry anymore and especially beautiful live productions. With breakthrough cases and a public that looks to Hollywood for so much, it would have been powerful for the Academy "itself" to seize the PR and be-the-voice that example-setting imagery.

Suggested for future productions:

  • Let the this industry take a leadership role in the middle of Delta's spread to show the public clearly where it stands
  • Televise and produce all with wisdom and awareness
  • when live: Make mention of the times we are still living in with a short heartfelt blurb on the show from a big celebrity name (near the top of the show) to show full awareness and compassion (otherwise omission comes off as tone-deaf to the at home audience. YES this is the platform, Yes, you have the world stage megaphone)
  • Say ON stage for the world audience to hear - all safe protocols that were done and those done and not seen. Acknowledge. Own it.
  • Acknowledge what is going on in the country for so many who can't be partying with statuettes. Why? The world is watching. You have best captive audience to show your -- leadership and contributions

Award shows are vital. They help the industry but they are also the greatest marketing of all exercises for television and movies. They are a must to keep these wonderful industries alive and also thriving in this pandemic.

Despite all having to be vaxxed to get in of course - there is a standard that the entire industry should exude for live productions - especially when basking in its own glory that it often gets criticized for.

This is a grand industry fortunate enough to get back to work (yes fortunate enough to get back to work, in a craft it loves.) How wonderful and happy were we for all our favorite shows and films -  but - be the leader you always were, especially when IATSE is seeking approval for a nationwide strike of entertainment industry workers the industry will need support.

In a perfect world, the industry could hold itself to a higher standard to send an example that says - we are leaders and we keep people safe on set - and OFF...even when the city says no need to do more.

The audience was watching at home. This would say: 'Ours was a party, yes. But we were just lucky enough to be exempt as a live TV show'

So yes, it would have been nice for the television Academy to be the first example - to take a visual leadership position for those at home who were....well...gasping.

Want to laugh?

Ha. By the end of the show, a loud speaker should have said to an empty lights dimmed stage:

Seth Rogen has LEFT the building. Goodnight everyone." 

Would have been the touché, mike-drop moment.  Roll credits.



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