MTV Execs Break Down the Making of the Movie & TV Awards and the Unscripted Show Spinoff

Vanessa WhiteWolf and Wendy Plaut spoke to TheWrap about how a crew of 800 people ensures a smooth live and pre-taped ceremony

MTV Movie & TV Awards

Producing the “MTV Movie & TV Awards” is no easy task, but executive producers Vanessa WhiteWolf and Wendy Plaut have plans in place to keep it moving like a well-oiled machine. The two MTV execs sat down with TheWrap and broke down how a team of 800 people “pulling double-duty” works to ensure a smooth show consisting of two distinct yet equally important ceremonies.

The pop culture awards show has offered television enthusiasts and movie fanatics fun celebrity fare and antics for the past three decades. This year, the show has added another ceremony — focused on highlighting unscripted reality series — that will be airing its second installment back-to-back on Sunday.

“Those are two pretty clearly defined lanes … that kind of helps us really define what the two shows are, but [we] still want it to fall under the ‘Movie & TV Awards’ umbrella, which is all about the fans,” WhiteWolf said. “It’s all about fandoms. It’s all about bringing the biggest and the best, and the stars and the shows and the movies that we know our audience really loves. And that’s how we find the throughline.”

That means highlighting the most popular works in TV and film with traditional categories like Best Show or Movie, along with MTV-specific and “irreverent” nods like Best Hero or Villain. New categories also include Best Reality Return, along with scripted nominations for “Here for the Hookup,” which came about after the producers gauged that a prominent and “fun” theme for this year’s eligible shows was sex, with dominant series like HBO’s “Euphoria” and “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” as well as Netflix’s breakout “Never Have I Ever.”

“Luckily for us, there is no shortage of unbelievable, exciting content out there, whether it be from the scripted world or the unscripted world, and we just really like to have our finger on the pulse of what is popping for the audience,” Plaut told TheWrap.

While the scripted ceremony will be airing live on Sunday from Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar at 8 p.m. ET/PT, the “MTV Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted” ceremony — which was pretaped Wednesday — will premiere immediately after, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The former will be hosted by Vanessa Hudgens, who was brought back after hosting 2020’s “Greatest of All Time” special; the latter will feature “The Bachelor” star Tayshia Adams.

“This show kind of gives us a little bit of the best of both worlds, where we’ve got our live show where we know it’s totally unpredictable, anything can happen,” WhiteWolf said. “We’re gonna have a huge amount of excitement in the room and make sure that that’s really big for the audience who’s watching it on their screens, but then you have unscripted, where we’re gonna have a couple hundred reality stars in the room together.”

Both Plaut and WhiteWolf said they approach coordinating the shows as fans first, having grown up watching the ceremony. For them, it’s about getting together in a room buzzing with excitement and celebrating the media that helped audiences get through the pandemic and beyond.

As with all in-person Hollywood festivities, the executives have had to be more “nimble and flexible,” accommodating for talent who may not be able to fly in as a result of COVID-related restrictions. WhiteWolf and Plaut approach the presenters and honorees list with the same amount of precision, putting together a “carefully curated” group of stars.

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“We really try and take a look at who are the celebrities — whether they are household names or up-and-coming — that really mean something to our audience,” Plaut said of this year’s presenters list, which includes Chris Evans, Lana Condor, Nicole Richie, Awkwafina and more.

The same is true with the recipients of the tentpole awards — such as the Comedic Genius Award going to Jack Black and Bethenny Frankel’s Reality Royalty Award. WhiteWolf added that a “small core team of creative executives” ensures that the year’s recipient “really fits the criteria and embodies that award.”

Altogether, WhiteWolf was adamant that the Movie & TV Awards offer viewers something more than a strait-laced, prestige awards show “because that’s kind of the antithesis of what we’ve always tried to do. It’s more about celebrating the people and the moments and the properties that really resonate with the audience.”

“MTV Movie & TV Awards” airs Sunday, June 5 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, and “MTV Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted” airs immediately after at 10 p.m. ET/PT.