Entertainment

COVID-era ceremony was a delight to watch

COVID-era ceremony was a delight to watch

Wait — was that a tribute to “Schitt’s Creek” or the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards?

Sunday night’s first-ever virtual Emmys telecast went off with nary a hitch — and was transformed into a celebration of “Schitt’s Creek,” the Canadian-produced Pop TV sitcom that sailed away on an ocean of statuettes across several major categories — including awards for stars Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy (“Boop!”). Job well done for a series that deserved all the accolades. (Heck, it even won “two Peabody Awards . . . and a Soul Train Award,” host Jimmy Kimmel joked.) The cast accepted its awards, live, from Canada. Nice touch.

Speaking of Kimmel, he and the 2020 Emmys telecast’s home network, ABC, did nearly the impossible given the unprecedented circumstances. In short, they nailed it: No audience in the Staples Center? No problem. ABC used a “virtual audience” from last year’s telecast for Kimmel’s opening monologue, allowing the tuxedo-clad host a chance to riff to celebrity cardboard cutouts — save for “Ozark” star and Emmy nominee Jason Bateman, who showed up in-person (fully tuxed) to banter with Kimmel before walking out in faux disgust when Kimmel told him he’d “have to laugh” at his jokes during the “pand-Emmys.”

ABC via Getty Images

It was, in fact, a fun, entertaining way to watch a show in a genre that usually drags with too many congratulatory speeches and cringe-worthy banter between presenters. The in-person presenters, including Jennifer Aniston, Zendaya, Jason Sudeikis and Tracee Ellis Ross, kept it short and to the point. Even the winners were more entertaining, perhaps because they were in the comforts of their own homes, which personalized them more than usual. I could’ve done without the political posturing from some of the winners — but that was about the only familiar element in a very different telecast.

You would have been forgiven for thinking you weren’t watching Kimmel deliver a “Jimmy Kimmel Live” monologue — firing off a string of one-liners without missing a beat. “The only thing I’ll be producing when I’m 98 is phlegm,” he said, alluding to 2020 Emmy winner Norman Lear. On ABC being required to show the words “Schitt’s Creek” to assuage the censors: “Just in case you’re wondering why network television is dead: HBO can show a blue penis, no problem.”

A couple of questions: How cool was that alpaca that Randall Park brought on stage? Why didn’t Michael Douglas participate remotely from home (we only saw his photograph)? What the heck was up with Laverne Cox’s weird presenter speech? On a personal note, I was happy to see an onstage appearance from underrated “Barry” co-star Anthony Carrigan (a k a NoHo Hank), who appeared with Kimmel as a very Russian-sounding “Derek” the postman: “I started just before election day in 2016.” Funny stuff from a funny guy.

Randall Park with Isabella the Alpaca at Emmys 2020.
Randall Park with Isabella the Alpaca at Emmys 2020.AP

“Schitt’s Creek,” as already noted, won big, and it was nice to hear Daniel Levy thank fellow nominee Issa Rae (HBO’s “Insecure”). Very gracious. Levy on his many awards: “The Internet is about to turn on me, I’m so sorry.” The major “Schitt’s Creek” players were together, socially distanced, making it sweeter for father-and-son Eugene and Daniel to win their Emmys. Daniel was visibly emotional; Annie Murphy was wearing the sideways “A” necklace she wore as ditzy Alexis Rose. Nice touch, as were the everyday people — a schoolteacher in Florida, a UPS guy, a rancher in Montana, a truck driver, two physicians — reading the nominees in several categories.

HBO’s “Watchmen” also walked away with an armful of Emmys, which is no surprise given both its social timeliness and its success earlier this week at the Creative Arts Emmys. The network’s other show, “Succession,” also took home awards for Outstanding Drama and Lead Actor (Jeremy Strong).

Billy Crudup’s late-in-the-telecast Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series was nice, but fell short of what Apple TV+ had hoped for its flagship drama, “The Morning Show” (Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carrell also came up short).

Jimmy Kimmel during the Emmys 2020 in memoriam segment honoring the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Jimmy Kimmel during the Emmys 2020 in memoriam segment honoring the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.AP

Kimmel mentioned Friday’s passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to segue into the annual “In Memoriam” segment, which led off with Regis Philbin — appropriate, since Reege logged more hours on television than any other person in the history of the medium (surpassing Hugh Downs, who also died this year and who was noted in the segment). It hit all the right notes and, as far as I can tell, there were no egregious omissions. I think it would have been more powerful, though, with just orchestral accompaniment (instead of having H.E.R. sing along with photos of those who passed). It’s a minor quibble, but perhaps something to note for next year.

All in all, Sunday night’s telecast overcame huge technical and emotional obstacles, and many naysayers (“No way they can pull that off”), to present one of the most entertaining Emmys shows in recent memory — and, in the process, set a high bar for succeeding televised awards shows that will follow during these COVID-restricted times.

About the author

Vicky Sequeira

Vicky Sequeira

With more than 6 years of experience working as a media professional, Vicky flaunts prowess in bringing the juicy tit-bits from the entertainment industry for the readers of News Brig.

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