Jimmy Kimmel will wear a tux and deliver an opening monologue — but those are about the only “normal” parts of Sunday night’s 2020 Emmys.
Forget the traditional pre-shindig red-carpet ceremony (“Who are you wearing?”), the star-studded studio audience dressed to the nines, the oft-cringeworthy presenter exchanges and even that jacked-up, booming voice-over guy.
In the COVID era, it will be just Kimmel, joking with and talking to the nominees, and a worldwide audience, live from the Staples Center in LA.
“To some extent we’re leaning into the unpredictability of [the ceremony] because, as Jimmy says, we have no idea what’s going to happen — and that’s part of the fun,” said Guy Carrington, who’s executive-producing the telecast along with Kimmel, Reginald Hudlin, Ian Stewart and David Jammy. “We’ll be prepared for pretty much any eventuality, but there will be something we’re not expecting.
“It will go off in a direction we’ll least expect,” he told The Post. “It’s given me a few sleepless nights, but people will be talking about it the next day.”
Carrington said Kimmel will open the telecast (8 to 11 p.m. on ABC) with a monologue (of some sort — it’s still being written). “He’ll be able to see, hear, talk to and interact with all the nominees from across the world beamed onto his set,” Carrington said. “A lot of the work we’ve been doing over the last few months is about facilitating all those 140 feeds coming into the Staples Center and working with the nominees and their representatives to make sure it’s a good connection — well-framed and nicely lit.
“The [telecast] should still feel like it has some gravitas, since it’s the biggest night of the year for the TV industry,” he said. “We don’t want the ceremony to feel like a video conference.”
Carrington said the “majority” of nominees were sent lighting and audio-enhanced equipment in advance. “They all have screens that will allow us to talk to them and have a two-way conversation,” he said. “One of the other things we’re dealing with is that the show goes out on a small, five-second delay, so we need to make sure the feed they’re watching is our feed, so they can watch in real-time and interact with their fellow nominees.”
And there’s another big difference from the traditional Emmycast: no dress code, which could lead to some, well, interesting attire.
‘If they want to be sitting in a pool on an inflatable pineapple, that’s great.’
“In some ways the formality has been removed from [the telecast], which lends itself to a really fun show,” Carrington said. “You’ll see the nominees in their homes, and we’ve encouraged them to have fun with what they’re doing . . . to be with their families and kids. We love that idea . . . of having that interaction with the nominees that no one has ever seen before.
“It lends a certain level of intrigue to the audience,” he said. “Who are they going to be with? Are they going to get dressed up? If they’re in London, and it’s 3 a.m. there, maybe they’ll be in their pajamas.
“If they want to be sitting in a pool on an inflatable pineapple, that’s great. Let’s have fun with it.”
Carrington said the winning nominees were not informed ahead of time; even the producers (including Kimmel) don’t know who will emerge victorious. “This is my third year [producing] the show, and that level of secrecy is the way it should be,” he said. “Nobody will know until the envelope is opened; in some cases, the nominees can’t be with us live, so they’ve prerecorded their segments, but no one knows who they are.”
Kimmel will be joined Sunday night by a few (socially distanced) presenters in hazmat suits on the Staples Center stage, Carrington said, but there will be no in-house orchestra to play the usual musical flourishes.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on . . . what we can do to enhance the atmosphere,” he said. “We will have [pre-recorded] musical accompaniment and scoring for large pieces of the show. It needs some energy — it’s a three-hour show, and [the music] will really help to get things moving.
“We want to make a show that’s true to the Emmys but that reflects where we are and not being tone-deaf to that,” he said. “We’re very mindful of that.”