Emmys Surprise Proposal: How the Oscars Director Hijacked the Emmy Awards Without Telling Anyone

Plan B for the proposal might have been … much less glamorous.
Glenn Weiss and Jan Svendsen70th Primetime Emmy Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 17 Sep 2018
Sterling K. Brown
70th Primetime Emmy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 17 Sep 2018
Issa Rae70th Primetime Emmy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 17 Sep 2018
William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman70th Primetime Emmy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 17 Sep 2018
Gaten Matarazzo
70th Primetime Emmy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 17 Sep 2018
103 Images

Oscars director Glenn Weiss had a pretty good idea that he’d win Monday night at the Emmys since he usually wins in the Variety Directing category. He bet on that with an out-of-blue proposal to his longtime girlfriend Jan Svendsen from the stage that took everyone by surprise. Svendsen

“I never expected this. I was shocked,” the new fiancee told reporters backstage. “I can’t even put words to it… It feels like this is the way it was supposed to be. It just feels right. We always felt right. I’m beyond ecstatic. I don’t have any doubt in my mind that we belong together forever.”

Svendsen hadn’t suspected a thing, and neither did the Emmys director Hamish Hamilton, whom Weiss credits for acting quickly and finding Svendsen in the audience. “He took the cue, he was right on the spot,” said Weiss. “And thank you for not playing us off.”

The couple had met in 2001, but even before that, Svendsen had been friends with Weiss’ mother. Svendsen is no stranger to awards shows as the chief marketing officer to the Tonys and the Broadway League. Weiss’ mother, who had died only two weeks ago, would often say that Svendsen was “my friend first.” In her memory, Weiss proposed using his mother’s wedding ring, which was “nerve-racking” to carry around on the red carpet before the ceremony. The only person who had an inkling of what would happen was Weiss’ own father, whom he had to ask for the ring to propose.

“[It’s] more precious to me than the hope diamond. It’s such a valuable thing sitting right here but now it’s where it belongs,” he said. “Thank you for saying yes.”

Glenn Weiss and Jan Svendsen, Emmys
Glenn Weiss and Jan Svendsen, EmmysMichael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

“It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in my life,” he added. “It became a thought and the thought picked up steam as I got here. The timing really lined up nicely. It was a magical moment.”

If he hadn’t won, Weiss didn’t have a specific Plan B for the proposal. “[I might’ve] waited till next year. [Or] I suppose [at] the ball or I suppose In ’N’ Out burger, which is our staple after awards shows.”

Now that the proposal went off without a hitch though, their usual post-awards plans have changed. “We’ll hit more parties than we thought we’d hit, though I don’t know now if we’d hit In ‘N’ Out.  It’s probably going to be a long night.”

Since it wasn’t planned, the impromptu bit of romance may not have helped the Emmys telecast ratings, but it sure stole the show for at least a couple of winners. Backstage, Variety Special Writing winner John Mulaney said, “Are you writing about the proposal that happened after me? Because that’s totally understandable.”

Later during the telecast, Variety Talk Series winner John Oliver used a portion of his acceptance speech time to say to Svendsen, “Thank you for saying yes. This would’ve been a very different evening.”

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.