Emmys Producers on Embracing Technical Difficulties: ‘Things Are Going to Go Wrong’

“The good thing is we’ve got Jimmy Kimmel, who loves live TV and the chaos of live TV,” executive producer Ian Stewart says

ABC/Todd Wawrychuk

Even with the pandemic forcing the Emmys to go remote this year, producers Reginald Hudlin and Ian Stewart say Sunday’s awards show will air live, technical difficulties and all. “We decided let’s not do the easy route here, the sanitized route here, and do lots of prerecorded things and put them all together, bolt them back to back and put out something that’s sort of generic,” Stewart said during a press conference on Wednesday to preview Sunday’s Jimmy Kimmel-hosted broadcast. “A stumbling block can be a stepping stone depending how you use it. This is a time to be a bit loose and have some fun … Anything that we can do live, we will do live.” In preparation for the broadcast, the producers sent out camera equipment to the nominees so they can broadcast themselves from home. 130 fully-assembled sets of cameras, monitors, ring lights and computers were sent out to 20 cities in 10 countries around the world. “[The nominees] are really going to be our partners in this process,” Hudlin said, noting that the show will more or less be at the mercy of 130 different internet connections around the world. “It’s sort of like trying to watch 130 sports matches at the same time. You have so many things coming in and so many things that can stop coming in,” said Stewart. “These are not places that are wired to do a sports match, they’re wired to be where you have your dinner.” The producers say they are expecting and are prepared for technical difficulties during the broadcast, but both they and ABC have embraced the reality of an unconventional show. “Things are going to go wrong,” Stewart said. “It’s never been done before … so things aren’t going to work perfectly all the time, and I think that’s part of the endearment of it. We’ve got to try. We’re going to try our best.” “The good thing is,” he continued, “We’ve got Jimmy Kimmel, who loves live TV and the chaos of live TV. I think he’s actually hoping things do go wrong, to tell you the truth.” As for the show’s runtime, “It’s really tough to know because we’re gonna be doing so many things that have never been done before,” Hudlin said. “If we’re in someone’s house and something extraordinary happens, we don’t want to be saying stop that immediately we’re running over, we want to have these natural moments play out.” The duo said they’ve looked at and learned from other virtual broadcasts, including awards shows, but they see this as an opportunity to escape what Stewart called “awards fatigue” and do things “really, really differently.” “This has been an extraordinary time that none of us have lived through ever before. TV, broadcast has been our friend right through that whole period,” Stewart said. “It’s been that water cooler when you can’t go to the water cooler. And we think, what the hell let’s celebrate it. Let’s celebrate the role that it’s had in our lives and the people who’ve made it who are so extraordinarily talented.”


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