Emmys successfully adapt to COVID-19

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Jesse Garrison

This past weekend, the Emmys aired, showcasing one of many possible ways to approach an award show mid-pandemic. “The virtual format worked surprisingly well. My favorite moments were watching the genuine surprise and joy of people winning awards and accepting them from home with family and friends,” US Theater Director Eric Severson said.

Paparazzi swarming, hundreds of celebrities arriving in limos to walk down a red carpet, fans begging for an autograph or a selfie with their favorite star, and a huge auditorium filled with every A-list celebrity: this is what a typical award show looks like. In the year of COVID-19, however, they’re going to look quite a bit different.

This past weekend, the Emmys aired, showcasing one of many possible ways to approach an award show mid-pandemic. While Jimmy Kimmel hosted the show from an empty Staples Center, award winners and nominees live-streamed from home with their friends and families. Like most virtual events, there were some small technical problems throughout the night, but overall, the ceremony was applauded for doing the best they could given the circumstances.

US Theater Director, Eric Severson, enjoys keeping up with award season and watching some of the shows, namely the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. He was pleasantly surprised at how well the Emmys tackled the virtual format.

“As much as I love watching the fashion on the red carpet, I found the more relaxed atmosphere this year put the focus back on the work – on the performances, the writing, the directing, the design, and not on ‘what they’re wearing.’ It was a nice break,” Severson said.

I found the more relaxed atmosphere this year put the focus back on the work – on the performances, the writing, the directing, the design, and not on ‘what they’re wearing.’”

— Eric Severson

Even with creative ways to get around not being able to get together in person, there are other obstacles that the pandemic has placed on award shows, specifically the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and other film related events; There are significantly less films eligible to win awards. The French Dispatch, Black Widow, The Batman, and West Side Story are just a few of the many films that have pushed back their release dates due to COVID-19.

“It will be fascinating to see what happens this coming year with awards shows due to the simple fact that there have been so few films released over the last 7 months and having many release dates postponed, and Broadway will be dark until at least January 2021… But I’m hopeful that the creativity of the performing arts community in the midst of COVID will generate some phenomenal new work,” Severson said.

In an industry founded on creativity and imagination, it will be intriguing to see what kinds of unique formats award shows will try out as the season unfolds.

Flickr Creative Commons image can be viewed here