Emmy Awards 2020: Stars prepare to dial in for virtual ceremony

TV stars are preparing to dial in to this year’s Emmy Awards, which will take place as a virtual ceremony later.

The usual star-studded event has been scrapped amid the coronavirus pandemic, so winners will accept their awards at home, or wherever they happen to be.

HBO’s superhero series Watchmen leads the nominations, despite plans for a second series being ditched.

Jimmy Kimmel will return to hosting duties after the Emmys opted to go without a compere in 2019.

The talk show host will oversee proceedings from Los Angeles on Sunday evening, with UK nominees and fans learning the winners in the early hours of Monday.

Here’s what to expect from this year’s Primetime Emmys:

A different looking ceremony

This year will mark Kimmel’s third time hosting the Emmys, after he fronted the ceremony in 2012 and 2016.

In a letter to the nominees in July, ceremony organisers confirmed this year’s event would go digital.

“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,” they said.

“This year, it’s still going to be TV industry’s biggest night out… but we’ll come to you! 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.”

Speaking to BBC Breakfast earlier this week, Succession actor Brian Cox said nominees had been told Emmy producers would send staff to personally deliver trophies to the winners in their homes.

“There’s going to be a man standing outside the door with an Emmy, which I may not win!” said the star, who is nominated for best drama actor. “Every Emmy nominee – there’ll be a man standing outside their house.”

Watch out for Watchmen

Watchmen, which has 26 nominations, is an innovative reimagining of a superhero graphic novel that tackled racism in America.

It won a loyal following and critical acclaim last year during its nine-episode run.

But its creator Damon Lindelof did not want to produce a second series. He gave his blessing for HBO to make another one without him, but the network decided not to.

The show’s nominations include one for English actor Jeremy Irons for best lead actor in a limited series.

In the acting categories this year overall, black actors have a record high 34% of nominations – many of whom are from Watchmen.

The show’s diverse cast includes nominees Regina King, Jovan Adepo, Louis Gossett Jr and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

The Brit pack

Aside from Irons, British nominees this year include Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer and The Crown’s Olivia Colman – who are both up for best actress in a drama series.

Two Brits are also nominated for best supporting actress in a drama – Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown) and Thandie Newton (Westworld), alongside Irish actress Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve).

Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller Bridge is shortlisted for best guest actress in a comedy series after hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live. Her former co-star Andrew Scott is in the running for outstanding guest actor in a drama series, for an episode of Black Mirror.

Cox, who was born in Dundee, is recognised for his role in Succession – where he plays Logan Roy, a harsh and vindictive media baron. Fellow Brits Matthew Macfadyen and Harriet Walter are also recognised for their performances in the satirical drama, which was created by British writer Jesse Armstrong.

Irish actor Paul Mescal, star of BBC Three’s Normal people, is nominated for lead actor in a limited series.

The shows with the most nominations

  • Watchmen – 26
  • The Marvelous Mrs Maisel – 20
  • Succession – 18
  • Ozark – 18
  • Schitt’s Creek – 15
  • The Mandalorian – 15

Emmy Awards 2020: The main nominations

Expanded categories

The categories are the same as usual – but many have been expanded to include more nominations.

The Television Academy announced earlier this year that awards would have varying numbers of nominees, based on how many submissions were received in each category.

Some categories have been unaffected by the change, but others have seen an increased number of slots available.

For example, there are now eight nominees for such prizes as outstanding comedy series and supporting drama actress – which had seven and six nominations respectively last year.

The expansion was intended to increase “inclusiveness in the recognition of excellence”, according to the Academy.

Other things to know

Hollywood veterans in the running this year include Eddie Murphy (his first nomination in 21 years) and Jennifer Aniston (her first in 11 years).

Netflix has the most nominations, with 160 in total. It’s the second time the streaming service has beaten its rival HBO, which has 107 this year.

HBO suffered from the absence of former Emmys favourite Game of Thrones, which concluded in 2019 after its eighth season. Traditional broadcast networks ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS have just 127 nominations combined this year.

More than 25,000 members of the Television Academy vote for the awards, which were first presented in 1949. The name Emmy derives from an early piece of TV equipment called the image orthicon camera tube – or the Immy.

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