The Future Is Now, as Primetime Emmy Ceremony Goes Virtual

In the immortal words of Jamiroqual: "Futures made of virtual insanity now."
THE OSCARS(r) - The 90th Oscars(r) broadcasts live on Oscar(r) SUNDAY, MARCH 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Craig Sjodin)JIMMY KIMMEL
Jimmy Kimmel

In the long tradition of updates that clarify nothing and leave you with more questions than answers, the 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony are definitely, officially, going virtual in September, to the surprise of no one, what with the ongoing pandemic still ravaging the United States and, specifically, California.

According to Variety, the news came in the aftermath of Tuesday’s nominations announcement, after which the executive producers of the ceremony — still scheduled to air on ABC on September 22 — sent a letter to acting nominees which stated that the event would indeed be virtual, but inviting them to participate from home “or another location of your choice” with help from a team of technicians, producers, and writers being assembled to help facilitate the process.

While the news is hardly unexpected, there are still a lot of questions surrounding what, exactly, a virtual Emmy broadcast will look like and what an audience can expect to find when they tune into ABC that evening. How will nominees and presenters will be involved? What will accepting an award look like? What categories will be featured in the broadcast? And, regrettably, will the event will still be subject to an interminable joke at the expense of the common man, in this case risking his or her life in a gig economy, most likely to deliver food to a multi-millionaire who is at that very moment hosting an awards ceremony?

The entirety of the letter, as published by Variety, can be found below. Representatives for ABC and the Television Academy did not immediately respond to IndieWire’s request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Dear Nominees,

The producers of Emmys 2020 congratulate you on this incredible recognition of your work.

We’re delighted and honored to be producing the event on September 20th and have every intention of not only making sure that it is not compromised by this crazy moment in our lives, but that it is the most memorable Emmys ever and that you have a wonderful night. As you’ve probably guessed, we’re not going to be asking you to come to the Microsoft Theatre in downtown LA on September 20th. This year, it’s still going to be TV industry’s biggest night out… but we’ll come to you!

At a time like this, we’re taking the opportunity to create a moment that is more relaxed, more entertaining, more enjoyable not only for you, but for the millions watching at home. It’s still television’s highest honor, and we never want to lose the significance of being nominated for, and maybe winning, an Emmy, but we’re going to do in a way that is appropriate to the moment (and guarantees you a memorable night).

But we cannot ignore the circumstances, and aside from NOT being able to come together in one place, we also acknowledge that our world is going through a challenging moment in many ways. We’ll be producing an event that is filled with warmth and humanity, which celebrates the power of television to bring us together and to help us shape our world. You are an essential part of that story.

So, what does this all mean for September 20th?

We are assembling a top notch team of technicians, producers and writers to work closely with Jimmy Kimmel and with you and your team, to make sure that we can film with you (and loved ones or whomever else you choose to be with) at your home, or another location of your choice. We’re going to make you look fabulous – we’re exploring the cutting edge of technology to allow to use good cameras and lighting and look forward to working with you to produce your unique “on screen” moments.

So, what are you wearing??? Our informal theme for the night is “come as you are, but make an effort!”

If you want to be in formal wear, we’d love that, but equally if you’re in the UK and it’s 3am, perhaps you want to be in designer pajamas and record from your bed! We want to work with you to style your moments, but want you to guide us on your levels of comfort – where you want to be, who you want to be with, what you want to wear etc.

In the forthcoming days, Jen Proctor, our Talent Producer and her extraordinary team at Cultivated Entertainment will be reaching out to you to start talking through the details.

Once again, congratulations.

With respect and admiration,

Jimmy Kimmel, Ian Stewart, Reggie Hudlin, Guy Carrington and David Jammy

Executive Producers, 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards

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