Awards HQ Aug. 23: Emmy Ticket Frustrations, Madisons The Boys Pop Up Report, Variety Sketch Series Upset in the Making?

Awards HQ Aug. 23: Emmy Ticket Frustrations, Madisons The Boys Pop Up Report, Variety Sketch Series Upset in the Making?

Greetings from Variety Awards Headquarters! Today is Aug. 23, 2021, which means it’s 7 days until final voting ends on Aug. 30; and 27 days until the Primetime Emmys telecast on Sept. 19.

We’re less than a month away from the Emmys! Just 27 days away from the big event at the L.A. Live events deck. I know 27 days doesn’t sound like a long time, and it isn’t — but to put it in another perspective, it is still 26 more days than Mike Richards‘ tenure as host of “Jeopardy.”

Woof. That was quite a journey. It’s a reminder for everyone in this business that in an age of social media, OPTICS MATTER. I think the big mistake here was Sony underestimating how people would react to the idea of the “Jeopardy” executive producer suddenly getting the hosting gig. Regardless of how he did as host, and how above board the studio was in making sure Richards didn’t influence the decision, that’s not enough to counter concerns to the contrary. What does matter is the narrative, and if it leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, these days they have a sounding board to band together and loudly make it known. This was not a popular choice, so it was fragile news to being with.

And if your candidate isn’t squeaky clean, past missteps will just add to that already negative feeling everyone has until, boom, it’s a real crisis.

Seriously, Netflix’s new series “The Chair” just illustrated all of this perfectly, and in that case, on a college campus, where a minor scandal spirals out of control because everyone manages to somehow make it worse. (Watch it, if you haven’t already. A fun, quick six-episode binge.) Bottom line: Mike Richards was already a disappointing choice for a lot of fans and for the world at large. Ironically, the guest host bake-off only added to the anticipation that the announcement would knock people’s socks off. When it didn’t, and the choice happened to be the guy running the show… well, again, I go to OPTICS.

In other news, after weeks of analyzing who might be the best Emmy pundit in all the land, AWARDS HQ has found it. The smartest, most handsome, charismatic Emmy columnist in the USA. No, the world. Drumroll please… AWARDS HQ picks Michael Schneider!! Congrats Michael! You are America’s Next Top Emmy King! This selection process was totally legit.

Now, let’s get going!

Emmys Limited Four-Ticket Rule Causes Headaches for Publicists, Disappointment Among Nominees

Say a prayer for your neighborhood Emmys publicist or awards executive… they’ve been spending the past week trying to figure out how to decide who gets to attend the Emmy awards, and who’s going to be watching from home. The Television Academy’s decision to limit nominated teams to just four in-person tickets is a safety move in light of the increase in COVID-19 cases — so let’s all blame the stubborn fools who refuse to get vaccinated.

Nonetheless, I do get how frustrating this is. And part of that has been the constant stream of changes that are being announced almost every week by the Academy. (Including a new rule, scroll down, that now requires attendees to take a COVID test.) “Why did they think that they were going to be able to do anything different where everything else is collapsing, and so it’s death by 1000 pinpricks,” says one exasperated network staffer.

What has been frustrating for them is how quickly things have been changing. The TV Academy had just completed vetting which producers can be credited in various nominations, which meant that networks/studios/streamers had just sent informed those producers that they were able to attend the Emmys and bring a plus one. “Then they come back with, actually only four people get to go, but meanwhile those emails crossed,” one staffer says. Which led to awkwardness: After being told they wouldn’t be attending after all, some of those producers received the letters telling them they had been accepted as a producer eligible for an Emmy — and a ticket to the show. Oops. One rep says that forced some embarrassing exchanges: “‘Well, ignore that official letter from the TV academy please instead accept this shitty email from us instead!’”

Emmy-nominated producers who have been uninvited from the ceremony are understandably disappointed. Networks/studios/streamers are currently planning alternate ways to recognize the nominees who can no longer attend; I’ve been told that Netflix, for example, has scheduled multiple Zoom toasts with co-CEO Ted Sarandos, including one at 10 a.m. and one at 5 p.m., as a way to recognize those nominees who will have to stay at home now. But whether that makes up for the disappointment of not being at the Emmys in person, well, that’s another story.

“There’s just no Emmys experience for us,” says one nominated producer who has been uninvited. “It sucks. I don’t know if this will ever happen again, so it sucks I don’t get to enjoy it. This huge moment in my career comes with a big asterisk on it.”

This producer, who asked not to be named, had already purchased a dress for the Emmys and has now returned it. “It’s a real bummer. I’m very COVID cautious, I’ve been very safe. But I do think there was a way to include every nominee, do vaccinations, testing beforehand, maybe not do plus ones and have a scaled down presenters and nominees only. It’s shitty to be nominated for an Emmy and not invited. I’m happy I can refer to myself as an Emmy nominee, that’s cool I guess, I wish it would happen another year.”

[Pictured above, yes those are my actual tickets from the 1996 and 1997 Emmys when I was a young reporter covering it for the late, great weekly TV trade Electronic Media.]

Awards Circuit Column: Quibi Shows Gave Roku a Taste of the Emmys; Here’s What’s Next, Including More ‘Reno 911’ Episodes

One of the most unusual quirks of this year’s Emmy nominations was the fact that Quibi managed to land eight of them — quite a feat, given that the streamer doesn’t actually exist anymore. (Quibi wound up with a much higher tally than plenty of networks that, well, are still in business.)

Quibi shut down in December, less than a year after its much-heralded launch. The Jeffrey KatzenbergMeg Whitman startup and its promise of delivering “quick bite” content to users exclusively on their phones became a bit of a punchline in the industry. But the programming itself was rather solid, attracting top Hollywood producers and stars. Clearly TV Academy voters found it Emmy-worthy: Last year, Quibi won two Emmys (for “#FreeRayshawn”).

This year’s three nominated Quibi shows — “Die Hart,” “Mapleworth Murders” and “Reno 911!” — live on via Roku, which acquired the Quibi programming slate earlier this year for its Roku Channel. Here’s the awkward thing: The Television Academy still lists the network for those shows as Quibi, since that’s where they debuted. But Roku, which has rebranded all of the shows as Roku Originals, is boldly embracing the nods as its first Emmy nominations.

On Roku, viewers can watch the programs for free (with ads between the short episodes) and on a TV — two things they couldn’t do under Quibi’s mobile-only, two-tier paid-subscription model. Moving to Roku “was such a seamless fit because we need ad breaks anyway, because that’s how we do support our programming,” says Roku scripted exec Colin Davis, who had been at Quibi. “We obviously shot these with world-class filmmakers, so it is at the highest quality and looks amazing on a TV screen.”

Roku isn’t married to Quibi’s short-form length, so as it starts pondering new originals, they may appear in all shapes and sizes. Already, I can exclusively reveal that Roku has ordered four additional episodes of “Reno 911!” that run at a full half-hour. Roku also is pondering a revival of NBC’s canceled “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” but Davis is mum: “We continue to evaluate things that make sense for us,” he says. “I will say on a personal note, I can’t go anywhere without seeing fans and their encouragement and enthusiasm for that show, and I think that’s a really special thing to have.”

Read the full column here.

TV PICKS: ‘Bridgerton’ Producer Chris Van Dusen Reveals His Guilty Pleasure, Desert Island Show and More

We asked Chris Van Dusen, showrunner and executive producer of Netflix’s Emmy nominated “Bridgerton” to share his TV guilty TV pleasure (Can be of all time, or currently. Cheesy reality show? Campy sitcom? Obscure public access show? Anything applies!); his “deep cut” (the show he recommends that isn’t as well known, past or present); and “show mate” (the show that, if you were stuck on a desert island with only one DVD, you’d choose to be the most important/most influential/best TV show in your life). Here are his answers:

Guilty TV Pleasure: Bravo’s “Below Deck.” But watching people act ridiculous on fancy yachts in the Mediterranean comes with zero guilt. It’s all pleasure. (And jealousy.)

Deep Cut: “Nathan For You.” When you’re not laughing you’re cringing.

Show Mate: “Golden Girls.” Because then it would be like I’m stuck on that island with four of my best friends anyway.

[Photo: Van Dusen on set with “Bridgerton” star Phoeve Dyvenor.]

Awards Circuit Podcast: Maya Rudolph and Nick Kroll on Emmys, Working During COVID and How ‘Big Mouth’ Is Keeping Up With the Times

For Maya Rudolph and Nick Kroll, there’s a bit of déjà vu to this year’s Emmy nominations. Rudolph is back nominated again as guest comedy actress (“Saturday Night Live”) and character voice over performance (“Big Mouth”), two categories she won last year. And Kroll, as executive producer of “Big Mouth,” is back in the running for the third consecutive year for animated program.

“I just want to say I’m so, so relieved that I was not nominated for voice too, because it would have been embarrassing to beat Maya,” jokes Nick, who voices the character of prepubescent Nick on the show. “It’s such a relief to not be recognized!”

Rudolph and Kroll joined Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast for a wild chat about “Big Mouth,” the Emmys, what they’ve been up to during quarantine, and a lot more. And then Kroll’s brother delivers him a massive sandwich for lunch, and even more silliness ensues. Listen below!

Also in this episode: Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking” offers an inside look at the custom of matchmaking in Indian cultures through a contemporary lens. Matchmaker Sima Taparia guides clients in the U.S. and India in the arranged marriage process, offering an inside look at the custom in a modern era. Variety’s Jazz Tangcay spoke to Auntie Sima from ‘Indian Matchmaking’ on the contestants, dating advice and how she got into matchmaking. But first, she talked about the amazing reaction that the show has received around the world.

Variety’s Emmy edition of the “Awards Circuit” podcast is hosted by Michael Schneider, Jazz Tangcay and Danielle Turchiano and is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in television. Each week during Emmy season, “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every Thursday.

RUFF DRAFT: Madison Chandler’s Exclusive Woof-port From ‘The Boys’ FYC Pop Up

Seriously, how am I not charging you for all of this fresh, fun content? There are other blogs and websites covering the Emmy race… but only ONE SOURCE brings you on-the-ground reporting from the FYC trail by the one and only Madison Chandler! Of course, as told to Danielle Turchiano, here’s Madison’s EXCLUSIVE take from last week’s Amazon Prime Video “The Boys” FYC event:

For Phase 1 FYC voting, Amazon Prime Video gave us a drive-thru lunch experience with Planet Vought, but for Phase 2 they brought things down to the beach (Venice Beach) for some laid-back sand art, Hawaiian shirts and ice cream.

I wish I could personally say the ice cream was delicious, but I have diabetes now and was deprived of the sweet, refreshing goodness named for everyone’s favorite supes and vigilantes. My mama swears it was good; she tried “Butcher’s Diabolical Boat Ride,” the flavor named for Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), which was basically chocolate ice cream with brownie chunks.

The flavor she chose was fitting because just west of the ice cream truck was a sand sculpture memorial of Lucy the Whale — complete with Butcher’s boat still rammed into her middle, with some of her insides on the outsides. (There was also a life size logo for the show made from sand.)

No event for “The Boys” would be complete without some “F**k Supes” signage. This one also included posters with QR codes that led fans, tourists and voters alike to the FYC site to learn more about the show. Those who came by for ice cream or Instagram photos could also snag a free water bottle with all of Amazon’s Emmy-nominated shows printed on it, as well as a “Boys” branded Hawaiian shirt.

This was just the end piece of Amazon’s week-long activation stunt for the drama series, but in my humble opinion it was the best one. Sure, you could sweat through Barry’s Bootcamp — or you could lie down, feel the cool ocean breeze and spy series creator and showrunner Eric Kripke popping by to celebrate his show’s success.

Follow Madison on his Instagram page, @therealmrmadisonc.

TV Academy Adds COVID Testing Requirement For All Emmy Attendees; Will Masks Be Mandated?

Most Hollywood events that are still taking place now require both proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test, so it’s not surprising that the Emmy Awards would follow suit. It looks like the Emmy tests won’t be rapid results on site, but it will be up to attendees to provide the results themselves (at least for now; everything is changing and fast moving in this space).

Also, now that it has been clarified that the outdoor Emmys will actually take place in a tent on the LA Live events deck — making it a bit of an indoor/outdoor hybrid — I’m wondering what the mask policy will be. The TV Academy is still ironing that requirement out; stay tuned.

Meanwhile, he’s the latest, as announced on Thursday:

In the case of testing, according to the org, “An added requirement for attendees has been issued: In addition to proof of full vaccination with either an FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine, attendees at all four shows will be required to provide proof of a negative RT-PCR COVID test prior to admission to all Emmy ceremonies.”

The RT-PCR COVID test must be taken within the following timeframes:

For attendees to the Saturday, Sept. 11, Creative Arts ceremony: On or after Thursday, Sept. 9.
For attendees to either of the Sunday, Sept. 12, Creative Arts ceremonies: On or after Friday, Sept. 10.
For attendees to the Sunday, Sept. 19, CBS telecast: On or after Friday, Sept. 17.

The TV Academy previously noted that the Creative Arts and Primetime Emmy ceremonies will be held on the Event Deck at L.A. Live, directly behind the Microsoft Theater. It also clarified that although this is technically “outside,” the show will still take place within a fully air-conditioned tent. The Academy has not yet clarified what that means in terms of mask wearing, but L.A. county currently requires the use of masks inside commercial venues.

Foo Fighters to Receive MTV VMAs’ First Global Icon Award

Foo Fighters will receive the MTV Video Music Awards’ first-ever Global Icon Award at the 2021 ceremony, writes Variety’s Ethan Shanfeld. The awards show airs live from Barclays Center on Sept. 12 at 8 p.m.

According to MTV, the Global Icon Award — a fixture of the network’s Europe Music Awards (EMAs) — “celebrates an artist/band whose unparalleled career and continued impact and influence have maintained a unique level of global success in music and beyond.” Past recipients of the EMAs version of the award include Queen, Eminem and Whitney Houston.

Foo Fighters, who are set to perform at this year’s VMAs, scored three nominations for “Shame Shame,” including best rock video, best choreography and best cinematography. Also performing at this year’s VMAs are Lil Nas X, Lorde, Machine Gun Kelly, Olivia Rodrigo and Camila Cabello.

Directors Guild Announces 2021-2022 DGA Awards Schedule

The Directors Guild of America has revealed its calendar for the 74th Annual DGA Awards, which will take place on Saturday, March 12, 2022.

Television, commercial and documentary nominees will be announced on Wednesday, January 26, 2022. Online voting will take place December 15, 2021 – January 21, 2022 for TV Nominations in five categories; all voting will continue to take place online.

Here’s the TV awards schedule:

Entry forms for TV and commercials available online: Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Deadline for submitting TV and commercials entries: Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Online voting for TV nominations opens: Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Deadline to vote online for TV nominations: Friday, January 21, 2022

Announce all TV and commercials nominees: Wednesday, January 26, 2022

DGA Awards Ceremony: Saturday, March 12, 2022

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: This Week’s Promo Mailers

Quite a spread from NBCUniversal, celebrating its total 99 Emmy nominations, including 70 for Universal TV (its most ever) and a full 75 for the new Universal Studio Group. To celebrate, NBCU sent out breakfast goodies from Republique, including a quiche, baked goodies, freshly squeezed orange juice, a ham and brie sandwich, fruit, and even a scone mix (which we made this weekend)! “Saturday Night Live,” “Ted Lasso,” “Hacks,” “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” and more are all a part of that tally.

Starz held its Television Critics Assn. panel on Aug. 19, highlighting new series “Shining Vale,” “BMF” and “Heels.”

Premiering tonight on ABC, “The Ultimate Surfer” follows 14 up-and-coming surfers as they train and live together at the World Surf League’s state-of-the-art Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California, powered by Kelly Slater’s human-made wave technology, in the hope of winning $100,000 and the opportunity to compete on the WSL Championship Tour. Former NFL quarterback Jesse Palmer hosts the surf competition series with sports anchor Erin Coscarelli and the voice of professional surfing Joe Turpel serving as commentators. Slater serves as a special correspondent. The show launches Monday, Aug. 23 at 10 p.m. on ABC.

It’s almost always Christmas at the Hallmark Channel, so of course they brought the holidays to us in the summertime.  And honestly, we need a little Christmas right about now.

For its TCA panels on Aug. 24, Showtime sent over some delectable edible cookie dough (with toppings!) from Edoughble. Showtime’s TCA panels will include the new series “American Rust” (featuring Jeff Daniels, Maura Tierney, Bill Camp); the return of “Dexter” (with Michael C. Hall); new series “Yellowjackets” (Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci); “Detainee 001”; and the return of “Work in Progress” (starring co-creator Abby McEnany).

Nat Geo and Disney Branded TV shared a TCA day on Aug. 18 (and sent over this soft Langham robe to remind us of the TCA hotel in Pasadena). Panels focused on “9/11: One Day in America” (National Geographic); “The Hot Zone: Anthrax” (National Geographic); “Vetsgiving: Paws and Give Thanks or WILDly Thankful “Fur” Our Vets” (Nat Geo Wild); Diversity in Children’s Animation (Disney Branded Television); The DCOM Craze (Disney Branded Television); “Sweet Dreams are Made of…Disney’s Magic Bake-Off!” (Disney Branded Television).

Filmed on location in Okmulgee, Okla., FX notes that “Reservation Dogs” is a breakthrough in Indigenous representation on television both in front of and behind the camera. Every writer, director and series regular on the show is Indigenous. From co-creators and EPs Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, “Reservation Dogs” is a half-hour comedy that follows the exploits of four Indigenous teenagers in rural Oklahoma who steal, rob and save in order to get to California. D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Devery Jacobs, Paulina Alexis, Lane Factor, Zahn McClarnon, Elva Guerra star.

Streaming Boom Keeps TV Salaries at Heady Levels: Here’s What Kate Winslet, Jason Sudeikis and More Are Earning

The streaming boom has radically changed TV compensation, with no sign that demand — or salaries — will be fading anytime soon for top small-screen talent. Newer streaming services are still ramping up their TV offerings as companies make a bid for eyeballs around the globe, and established streamers are doing their best to remain competitive with them and traditional TV counterparts.

That is leading to some hefty upfront paydays for some of the biggest, A-list feature stars making their way to TV. The last time Variety wrote about bulging TV salaries, it referenced the growing “$1 million club.” Now that number is shifting closer to $2 million. At the top of that list, Robert Downey Jr. is rumored to have made at least that — if not more — for A24’s Vietnam War thriller “The Sympathizer,” for HBO. Chris Pratt is said to have pulled down $1.4 million for his Amazon Prime series “The Terminal List.”

And the hunger at the streamers for A-list talent only gets more vociferous when another star has a huge hit — witness Kate Winslet and “Mare of Easttown,” the kind of show every outlet is anxious to have. “You’re seeing a lot of pressure at Apple, Amazon, Hulu, to cast these major names and their shows, and for that they’re willing to spend a ton of money,” says one rep. “It all depends on how much leverage you have and how badly they need you.”

Read the full story, including the chart of major salaries, here.

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Unveils New Mural, and Fans Can Post Their Selfies For a Good Cause

VH1’s Emmy winning competition series “RuPaul’s Drag Race” unveiled a mural from artist Antonio Rael over the weekend, featuring special appearances by Season 13 winner Symone and runner up Kandy Muse.

Guests who visit the mural can upload their photo to their story, reel, or Instagram using the hashtag #DragRaceFYCMural and tag @RuPaulsDragRace and @lalgbtcenter. For each post with the hashtag and tags, VH1 will make a donation, up to a total donation of $5,000, to the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

The mural is located at 8180 Melrose Ave., at Melrose and North La Jolla Avenue. The mural will be on display until August 30.

“The mural, which took three weeks to complete, was painted freehand and represents not only the queens from Season 13, but also freedom of expression,” Rael says. “It’s a huge honor to be a part of this given how much love I have for the show and all that it stands for (and I felt particularly blessed as local WeHo residents cheered me on while I was painting!). I am hoping this mural will encourage people to create and express themselves in their own unique way, and that this art brings joy to people, especially in these trying times. It is just so special to be part of the LGBTQIA community.”

Clayton Davis’ Emmy Predictions: Variety Sketch Series

Could an epic upset in the Variety Sketch Series category be in the offing? The TV Academy last week announced that variety sketch would be moved to the main CBS telecast (as opposed to the third and final Creative Arts Emmys ceremony, as originally planned) — and that could make things interesting. I’ve been wondering if the 50/50 nature of this year’s category, with just two nominees, might tip the scales in Robin Thede‘s favor, and Variety’s Clayton Davis has the same idea. He writes:

“A Black Lady Sketch Show” from creator/showrunner/star Robin Thede has increased its popularity significantly over its two seasons. This year, it also increased its overall tally of Emmy noms from three to five, including two noms for guest comedy actress (Yvette Nicole Brown and Issa Rae). In a 50/50 scenario, Goliath might be able to strike down David.

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” on the other hand, is the longest-running sketch series and picked up an impressive 21 nominations, up from 15 last year. (This includes multiple acting mentions for its cast members). The incumbent winner has also taken this race since 2017, and as one of two shows nominated, it may not be very reasonable to bet against it.

Here’s his current predictions:


1 “A Black Lady Sketch Show” (HBO)
2 “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

To see all of Clayton’s latest predictions, of all the categories, in one place, visit  THE EMMYS COLLECTIVE. Visit each individual category, according to the awards show from THE EMMYS HUB.

The Week Ahead

Monday, Aug. 23, 5 p.m.: Variety Streaming Room: “Mare of Easttown.” Lead actress and executive producer Kate Winslet, supporting actress Julianne Nicholson, supporting actor Evan Peters, creator / writer / showrunner / executive producer Brad Ingelsby and director / executive producer Craig Zobel of HBO’s “Mare of Easttown” join Variety’s Angelique Jackson. Register here.

Tuesday, Aug. 24, 5 p.m.: Variety Streaming Room: “Mahalia.” Actress / co-executive producer Danielle Brooks and executive producer Linda Berman of Lifetime’s “Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia” join Variety’s Angelique Jackson. Register here.

Wednesday, Aug. 25, 4 p.m.: The Writers Guild Foundation presents “Sublime Primetime 2021.” Writing for Drama Series panelists include Yahlin Chang (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Rebecca Sonnenshine (“The Boys”) and more to be announced. Moderated by Glen Mazzara.

Wednesday, Aug. 25, 5 p.m.: Variety Streaming Room: “Genius: Aretha.” Actress Cynthia Erivo of Nat Geo’s “Genius: Aretha” joins Variety’s Marc Malkin. Register here.

Thursday, Aug. 26, 9:30 a.m. Variety & Rolling Stone Truth Seekers Summit presented by Showtime Documentary Films, explores the art of documentary and investigative storytelling. Don’t miss exclusive keynote conversations and panel discussions with leading documentary filmmakers and investigative reporters making an impact, affecting change. Registration is free but required for access. Go here to register.

Thursday, Aug. 26, 4 p.m.: The Writers Guild Foundation presents “Sublime Primetime 2021.” Writing for Comedy Series panelists include Lucia Aniello, Paul Downs, Jen Statsky (“Hacks”), Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt (“Ted Lasso”), Meredith Scardino (“Girls5eva”), Steve Yockey (“The Flight Attendant”). Moderated by Gloria Calderon Kellett.

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