By Ben Travers | Indiewire August 25, 2014 at 10:21AM
Thanks to Sunday Night Football, the Emmys will be held on Monday night this year, thus breaking a long-running tradition of both capping off the weekend with a big, beautiful bang and taking advantage of all those Sunday night eyeballs for a big ratings grab. Despite TV growing in stature -- just as many famous faces are expected to attend the Emmys as the Oscars this year -- NBC decided it best to push the ceremony to the first night of the work week rather than offend the NFL by giving up a preseason football game between Cincinatti and Arizona (not exactly big market draws). So what can we expect from the new night? Well...
Seth Meyers' Dry Humor
It's hard to predict which version of Seth Meyers we'll get come Emmys night. On the one hand, Meyers has been doing very well for NBC as the "Late Night" host, bolstering numbers and winning over critics. He's used his talents as a writer and calm demeanor as a host effectively, while being aided by his inspired choice of band leader/sidekick Fred Armisen. Yet Meyers never won anyone over as a personality while solo-anchoring "Weekend Update" on "SNL" for five seasons. He was dependable, yes, and even had moments of warmth and genuine levity -- but his memorable moments stack far shorter than those from Amy Poehler, Colin Quinn, and Norm MacDonald. He'll need to amp up his attitude a touch to keep the Emmys exciting. After all, keeping up energy at an awards show in a concert hall isn't as easy as buying time between sketches in a studio.
Luckily, this isn't Meyers' first gig as a host. He's performed admirably at two ESPY awards shows and, before that, hosted the Webby Awards in 2008 and 2009. He's got plenty of experience with a live crowd and should be as comfortable in front of a camera as he is chatting with the celebrity guests. It may be difficult to top Neil Patrick Harris -- following up him is like taking the open mic from Eddie Murphy circa 1985 -- but Meyers' bottom is higher than other, more experimental hosts of the past (he won't be James Franco). Expect a pleasant evening, hopefully with a livelier monologue than usual.
A Touching Tribute to Robin Williams
In Memoriam segments are much trickier than they sound. What should be a simple remembrance of those lost since the last ceremony is turned into a political circus thanks to Hollywood in-fighting and (overly) critical analysts. Awards show producers have to deal with the varying levels of clapping from the audience in the room, a tacky practice recently reeled in with the use of live musical performances. They also have to time the section perfectly. If it runs long, the mourning could bog down the whole show. Short and people are upset their favorite stars weren't properly honored.
Last year, those behind the Emmys segment were called out for paying extra tribute to five individuals of great importance to the medium. Fans of those who died and failed to receive a special remembrance were angered. This year, Executive Producer Don Mischer has decided to pay due homage to Robin Williams, a choice that's bound to be met with some controversy even though the nation has been in unified mourning since news broke just over two weeks ago.
They're off to a good start by selecting Billy Crystal as the tribute's lead speaker. He's got plenty of hosting chops and can blend comedy and drama with the best of them. Grab a box of tissues before it starts. You'll probably need the whole thing.
Stars Plugging Fall TV as Presenters
Awards ceremonies are almost as much about plugging new shows as they are honoring ones already on the air. The coveted viewership of avid TV fans leads to competition over which network gets to air the Emmys (so they can also blanket the telecast with ads for their fall TV lineup), and then there's another war over who will get to present the statues and thus plug their upcoming programs. So it should come as no surprise you'll hear Debra Messing's name announced not as an Emmy-winner for "Will and Grace" but as the star of NBC's "The Mysteries of Laura." Allison Janney will either be an Emmy winner for "Masters of Sex" or a nominee for "Mom" (not a four-time winner for "The West Wing") while Halle Berry will probably be introduced as the star of "Extant" instead of the first African American to win the Best Actress Oscar. Also presenting are Viola Davis ("How to Get Away With Murder"), Octavia Spencer ("Red Band Society"), Julia Roberts ("The Normal Heart"), and many famous faces currently nominated, from Matthew McConaughey ("True Detective") to Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep").
Plenty of Social Media Moments
Seth Meyers has said he's not going to attempt anything as extravagant as the Oscar selfie Ellen Degeneres staged for Twitter hits at this year's Academy Awards, but you better believe NBC and the Television Academy will be looking to capitalize online in more ways than one (there's an official Twitter camera on a zip line, for Pete's sake). Live tweeting will be at a frenetic pace as is always the case with awards shows (or anything people want to make snide remarks about en masse), and everyone will want to be top RT and Facebook trend before the night it through.
Still, the best way for the Emmys and NBC to capitalize on social media is by producing something they own. Considering its host's background, look for some pre-recorded bits to air during the broadcast that will surface after the show ends online. Meyers isn't as prolific as his fellow talk show host Jimmy Fallon or ex-"SNL" partner Andy Samberg, but he knows how to write some damn fine comedy. Whether it be a sketch or a guest appearance, NBC and the TV Academy could both post it on their websites and YouTube pages for further revenue and exposure.
Benedict Cumberbatch, Lena Dunham, Jon Hamm and Taylor Schilling
No, none of these stars are expected to actually take the stage to collect a trophy -- okay, maybe Taylor Schilling. Dunham has no shot versus the veterans Amy Poehler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Hamm looks like he'll go another year without being recognized for his iconic, breakout role on "Mad Men," and poor Benny will need a miracle to top Mark Ruffalo and Billy Bob Thornton.
So why should you expect them all over the broadcast? Because people love them -- bloggers, social media junkies, and youths, specifically. NBC will want to attract the youngest demographic possible, so don't expect too many reaction shots of older nominees. You'll get plenty of Cumberbatch smiling, winking, nodding, laughing, and staring stoically ahead as nothing in particular is happening. Same goes for Dunham, who's still a hot commodity even though "Girls" has cooled off, and Hamm, a man who just knows how to play to a camera (and will satisfy almost about every demographic watching). Schilling should get some love because of the show she represents, but there will also be a wild card of the night. Someone who wins people over either with his/her charm or by being forced on us by the Emmy director's odd predilections. We'll have to wait for that lucky lad or lassie, but these four seem like safe bets as of now.