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2020 Emmys: Historic ‘Handmaid’s’ and Five Other Snubs & Surprises

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The third night of the Creative Arts Emmys officially certified Baby Yoda as “Baby of the Year.”

It’s hump day, so it’s only appropriate that the conclusion of Wednesday’s Creative Arts Emmy program felt as though a certain burden had been lifted. Mere days ago we had four full webcasts to power through before the weekend’s two televised events. Now, Thursday’s ceremony is the only thing standing between viewers and the weekend. Rarely has the passage of time felt more miraculous.

For people who haven’t attended the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in person before, the Television Academy had recently shifted the event to span two separate nights of a single weekend, generally the weekend before the Primetime Emmy Awards were scheduled. The press rooms were crowded and jockeying for outlet space could get vicious, but food was provided and the pace of the show languorous enough to allow for brief constitutionals about the room, if necessary.

So sitting down and watching those events manipulated into five separate presentations has taken a lot of getting used to. Not only do I have to pay for my own food, but my apartment has way more cats than typically found wandering around the Microsoft Theater adjacent press room. And beyond that, the pace of the webcasts has been simultaneously frenetic and overstuffed, with hardly enough time to sneeze, unless it’s during one of the multitude of segments already featured (sometimes multiple times) this week at which point you have plenty of time to kill.

In short, it’s weird. Everyone’s trying their best, but it’s still weird. Regardless, it wouldn’t be the Emmys without some snubs and surprises, and Wednesday had plenty:

Surprise: Emmy Award-winning Series “Vikings”

The History channel mainstay has just 10 episodes left to air before it concludes, so it would appear the series saved the best for last. Nominated 13 times since it debuted in 2013, “Vikings” finally broke its cold streak and won its first-ever Emmy. The award in question honored Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role and was earned for the midseason finale of Season 6, titled “The Best Laid Plans.”

Fun fact: Of the five nominees, only Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” has previous Emmy wins. Of the rest of the field, Prime Video’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” has never won, “Tales From the Loop” has only aired one season, and FX’s “Devs” was a limited series.

Olivia Colman in “The Crown”

Courtesy of Des Willie / Netflix

Surprise: The Costumes on “The Crown” are Unstoppable

Three seasons, three Emmys. That’s just about as good as a show can expect to do when it comes to consistency at TV’s premiere awards show and Netflix’s “The Crown” has done just that. There’s just something about that royal family and the show’s continual march through history towards the present day that serves as catnip for costume aficionados, and they’re not wrong. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more sumptuous batch of wardrobes than in the (evolving) period piece, which even when they smack of the 1970s prove to be fit for a queen.

Surprise: “The Handmaid’s Tale” Uses Rules to Defy Math

Of course, if you want to get technical about it, there are absolutely ways that a series could end up with more awards in a category than they have seasons to compete in and I’m not talking about ties. “The Handmaid’s Tale” has now done just that in Outstanding Production Design For A Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour Or More), taking home four trophies in the category, despite having only aired three seasons.

It’s a little inside baseball, but the explanation is thus: The Television Academy includes a hanging episodes rule that allowed episodes to compete in categories the following year if they did not meet the eligibility deadline for the Emmy Awards for the bulk of its season. Which is to say that while most of “The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 2 competed at the 2018 Emmy Awards, the final three episodes of the season were in competition at the 2019 Emmy Awards.

"The Mandalorian"

The Child, AKA Baby Yoda, in “The Mandalorian.”

Disney

Surprise: Disney+ Looms Large

Blame it all on Baby Yoda, but Disney+ has become the clear-cut leader when it comes to the new generation of streamers. The streaming house of mouse won five awards on Wednesday, as “The Mandalorian” went five-for-10 on the evening, a fine showing for the freshman series. It’s something of a surprising turn for a streaming platform originally thought to be the place for populism rather than prestige, but time will tell if Mickey can make his mark at the Primetime show on Sunday.

Snub: We Need to Talk About “GLOW”

This seems like just as good a time as any to sit down and discuss the real life ramifications of people not appreciating Netflix’s “GLOW,” a terrific comedy about an inclusive group of women banding together and bouncing around inside the fabulous environs that was “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.” While the series consistently scores a Supporting Actress nomination for Betty Gilpin (deserved) and has twice won for its stunt coordination (super deserved) it has fallen well short of the amount of praise and accolades it deserves.

Watch this show. There’s a pandemic on. I know you’re running out of things to do. It’s weird and hilarious and deeply touching and if none of that does it for you, well, there’s a lot of women in 1980s-style leotards. It’s coming back for one more season, and I better not be back here then talking about how all y’all apparently didn’t take this time to get caught up.

GLOW

“GLOW”

Erica Parise/Netflix

Surprise: Reinventing Reruns.

Part of that unshakeable feeling of disinterest likely comes from the fact that even though this was only the second night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, the ceremony was already well into reruns. Relatively early in the (47-minute) event, a segment about the TV Academy’s internship program ran. Or rather, ran again, as repeat viewers saw it for the first time last night. It felt a little gauche, but if you consider it as a form of in-house advertising, it was largely harmless.

However, it was when the event repeated the exact same In Memoriam segment that things got truly infuriating.

During Monday night’s ceremony, the In Memoriam segment was slightly confusing, featuring a continuous crawl made up of the names of people within the industry that had died in the past year, with only select breakouts featuring an individual’s name and photo and select credits. It was unclear why certain people were chosen over others, given the wide variety of their careers, but I had hoped the method of the madness would be made clear over consequent nights.

And it did. Because there is no method. Tuesday night’s In Memoriam was exactly the same, beginning with “Mythbusters” star Grant Imahara, including drag performer and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumnus Chi Chi DeVayne, concluding with “Saturday Night Live” music producer Hal Willner.

This seems obvious, but if you have a series of events taking place over five separate nights, there is plenty of opportunity to create a unique segment for each celebrating the lives and legacies of lost creatives. It makes little sense to reuse the same clip, highlighting the same handful of individuals, and egregious to not even spellcheck the names that you’re including — even if they’re mired in the background.

Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah, I wrote this about yesterday’s show. Were you hoping for original content here about Wednesday’s Emmy program? So was I. Do not spread your awards over four nights if you only have enough material for one.

Tuesday, September 15

Apollo 11

“Apollo 11”

CNN

Two down, three to go. The Television Academy hosted the second night of its Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Tuesday, celebrating 16 categories of Variety programming, with further installments of the awards show scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday of this week.

Expectations were (marginally) higher for the night celebrating Variety programming after Monday night’s show, the organization’s first attempt at a socially-distanced pseudo-ceremony, left plenty of room for improvement. While the bobbles were relatively minor — a presenter’s hand was in full view while self-recording, a two-time winner had their pre-taped acceptance speech aired back-to-back, the In Memoriam was confusing and potentially exclusionary — they gave the entire production a cobbled-together air, but one easily fixed with a little editorial oversight.

As for the latest batch of winners, there were very few snubs or surprises on paper. Perennial favorites including HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” both ended the evening with three awards, while VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” nabbed two more awards to add to its two from Monday night, and a pair of ABC productions “The Oscars” and “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Good Times’” also scored two trophies.

In truth, the real surprises on Tuesday night came not from the winners, but the production itself, never an auspicious prospect. So without further ado, here’s the latest batch of the 2020 Emmy surprises and snubs:

Surprise: Somehow, Even Shorter.

If you watched Monday night’s Emmy event (you didn’t), you’d know that the entire affair lasted less than an hour, coming in at a cool 55 minutes. On Tuesday, the TV Academy apparently decided to “hold my beer” itself by giving out 16 awards, acceptance speeches and all, in 47 minutes. I’ve been in a drive-thru at In-N-Out for longer than this Emmy ceremony took.

While there’s something to be said about brevity, at some point it just feels like they aren’t taking the job of announcing the most prestigious awards in television seriously enough. And while I was willing to cut the Academy a lot of slack for the impossible situation they’re in — what with trying to put on six events in seven days — there’s no excuse for phoning in something that could very well serve as the pinnacle of someone’s professional career.

Nicole Byer Nailed It Netflix

Nicole Byer

Courtesy of Netflix

Surprise: Reinventing Reruns.

Part of that unshakeable feeling of disinterest likely comes from the fact that even though this was only the second night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, the ceremony was already well into reruns. Relatively early in the (47-minute) event, a segment about the TV Academy’s internship program ran. Or rather, ran again, as repeat viewers saw it for the first time last night. It felt a little gauche, but if you consider it as a form of in-house advertising, it was largely harmless.

However, it was when the event repeated the exact same In Memoriam segment that things got truly infuriating.

During Monday night’s ceremony, the In Memoriam segment was slightly confusing, featuring a continuous crawl made up of the names of people within the industry that had died in the past year, with only select breakouts featuring an individual’s name and photo and select credits. It was unclear why certain people were chosen over others, given the wide variety of their careers, but I had hoped the method of the madness would be made clear over consequent nights.

And it did. Because there is no method. Tuesday night’s In Memoriam was exactly the same, beginning with “Mythbusters” star Grant Imahara, including drag performer and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumnus Chi Chi DeVayne, concluding with “Saturday Night Live” music producer Hal Willner. (As a bonus add, the segment also misspells the name of Wilford Brimley.)

This seems obvious, but if you have a series of events taking place over five separate nights, there is plenty of opportunity to create a unique segment for each celebrating the lives and legacies of lost creatives. It makes little sense to reuse the same clip, highlighting the same handful of individuals, and egregious to not even spellcheck the names that you’re including — even if they’re mired in the background.

Surprise: A Thin Blue Line face mask

A “blink and you’ll miss it surprise” was a reference to a somewhat controversial image featured on the mask of Emmy Award-winning director of “The Voice” Alan Carter.

While Carter was giving audiences a (very interesting!) behind-the-scenes tour of the expansive control room used to film the socially-distanced finale of the hit NBC singing series, he showed himself thoughtfully using a mandated mask while indoors, emblazoned with a Thin Blue Line flag.

The imagery can be seen as problematic: Designed as a symbol of solidarity with police forces, the flag has since been co-opted by some white supremacists and used as an unofficial emblem of the “Blue Lives Matter” movement, which suggests that a person’s career choice should be considered as sacrosanct as their race or gender with regards to protections under hate crime legislation.

While supporting the police is not inherently controversial, it’s a curious choice by the Academy to include such questionable imagery in the edit while going to such great lengths to assure everyone that they’re committed to inclusion and boosting the voices of individuals often marginalized within both the industry and society at large. IndieWire reached out to the Television Academy for comment about the inclusion of Carter’s mask.

THE WALL -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Chris Hardwick -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)

Chris Hardwick, “The Wall”

Chris Haston/NBC

Surprise: Chris Hardwick Presents After #MeToo Allegations

If you haven’t seen Chris Hardwick around lately, there’s a reason for that. In 2018, Chloe Dykstra, an ex-girlfriend of the “Talking Dead” host, wrote a blog post accusing an unnamed ex of emotional and sexual abuse with enough details that readers ascertained that she was alleging Hardwick.

The post launched investigations at AMC, where Hardwick hosted shows, and Nerdist, which he helped found. Ultimately he was found innocent of wrongdoing. Dykstra did not participate in either investigation.

Hardwick was sidelined for a few weeks before returning to his job duties, and on Tuesday he received the imprimatur of the industry by taking centerstage at the Creative Arts Emmys to present the final two awards of the evening. IndieWire reached out to the Television Academy for comment about Hardwick’s selection.

Snub: “A Black Lady Sketch Show.”

As HBO’s little sketch comedy show that could, featuring the comedic talents of creator Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis, and Quinta Brunson, the brilliant “A Black Lady Sketch Show” just couldn’t break through and bring down the Goliath that is “Saturday Night Live.” It’s OK, ladies. You’re all still bad bitches.

The Leftovers Season 3 Episode 7 Justin Theroux

Justin Theroux in “The Leftovers”

Ben King/HBO

Surprise: Two-time Emmy Winner Justin Theroux.

And finally, some actual good news. It wasn’t the way we expected but Justin Theroux, who had his titanic performance on HBO’s “The Leftovers” overlooked in each of its three seasons — he wasn’t even nominated — now has two Emmy Awards, all thanks to Norman Lear. Theroux serves as an executive producer on the live variety specials and newfound Emmy darling “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” and for his efforts has been roundly rewarded.

One more, guys. Then we’re even.

Monday, September 14

"Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness"

“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”

Netflix

The Television Academy introduced a Creative Arts Emmy ceremony like no other Monday night, a pre-taped affair that ran less than an hour and awarded 17 different categories for Reality and Non-Fiction programming. The event was the first in a weeklong effort to present socially-distanced ceremonies that celebrate the art of TV while still encouraging safety and sanity in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

And while the ceremony itself may have looked different than previous years, there were obvious upsides, including the fact that this year the viewing public actually has the opportunity to see each and every Emmy awarded — something not possible in typical circumstances, where the Creative Arts Emmys would be dispensed over two nights in a non-televised ceremony with a cut-down version maybe running on a cable network.

What is the same to prior years, however, is the inevitable snubs and surprises revealed with the announcement of winners — and subsequent losers. If you’re a busy person that just can’t make time for a 56-minute ceremony, here’s the six snubs and surprises in the wake of Monday night’s event:

Surprise: Netflix is king, but “Tiger King” isn’t.

With a record 160 Emmy nominations this year, it’s not surprising that Netflix ended the first night of competition with the most wins. But what may come as a shock to some is the fact that not one of the streamer’s five wins came from its infamous documentary series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.”

Perhaps the first breakout hit of quarantine, “Tiger King” took the world by storm as viewers were drawn into an unseemly web of exotic animal hoarding, missing limbs, and murder for hire. The endeavor was such a hit there are now not one, but two different projects currently in development to adapt the greater “Tiger King” narrative into a series, starring Nicolas Cage and Kate McKinnon, respectively.

It appeared that Emmy voters were not immune to the off-kilter charms of the series, awarding it with six nominations, but as “Tiger King” went 0-for-3 on Monday, it seems like there might be a limit to the TV Academy’s love.

Instead, Netflix’s wins spanned a number of different offerings, including, “Queer Eye,” “American Factory,” “Don’t F*** With Cats,” and “Cheer.”

Surprise: David Attenborough Three-peat

When Emmy nominations were announced at the end of July, it was a delight to look at the nominees for Outstanding Narrator and witness a host of diverse voices, including stars of film and, uh, sport, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Of course, those nominees were competing against a ringer in David Attenborough who, with his Monday victory for BBC America’s “Seven Worlds, One Planet,” has now won the category in three consecutive years.

In fact, many of Monday’s winners were whiter than a person might expect given the seemingly increased inclusiveness of the year’s nominees — to the extent that the ceremony itself had at least one segment dedicated to boosting underrepresented voices in the below the line fields that populate so much of the Creative Arts Emmys.

Apollo 11

“Apollo 11”

CNN

Surprise: Apollo, Apollo

It was just a really good night for projects with the word “Apollo” in the title, including CNN’s “Apollo 11,” which took home three awards, as well as HBO’s “The Apollo,” which won Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Special.

Snub: “The Last Dance” Benched

Another documentary series that took the pandemic by storm, ESPN’s “The Last Dance” didn’t manage to clinch any victories at Monday’s ceremony. The series, which was pushed up two months in part due to audience demand, traced the final season of Michael Jordan’s tenure with the Chicago Bulls as they pursued a sixth NBA championship. Paired with the blanking of “Tiger King” and Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” maybe voters found themselves put off by hype.

Snub: Beastie Bust

Similarly, Apple TV+’s much-touted documentary “Beastie Boys Story” went 0-for-5 at Monday’s ceremony, completing its Emmy journey almost before it began. But Apple TV+ wasn’t the only brand new player yet to strike first blood at the Emmys. Though nominated for far fewer awards for the first night of the Creative Arts Emmys, Disney+ also went home empty-handed, a disappointing launch for the streaming heavyweights.

Surprise: A Good Night for Network

Sure, Netflix was the outlet that scored the most awards on Monday, but it was also the only streamer to get any play at the ceremony. If Netflix won five awards, that means that 12 of the 17 prizes went to traditional network TV programs. While it can often seem as though streaming television is the primary place to turn for TV these days, networks including NatGeo, CNN, VH1, and others prove that your computer isn’t the only choice for getting quality programming, particularly if that programming is non-fiction.

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Entertainment

UK’s Film and TV Charity launches new diversity-focused £2m Covid-19 Recovery Fund | News

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A new fund will distribute £2m to the UK film, TV and cinema workers hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, helping to sustain their careers and to preserve the talent pipeline into the industry.

The Covid-19 Recovery Fund has been set up by the Film and TV Charity to support those suffering financially due to the crisis.

It will deliver targeted financial and wellbeing assistance that will enable recipients to support themselves for up to six months. Support packages will run to up to £4,500, at a maximum rate of £750 a month for six months.

Eligible individuals must be a UK resident or have the right to live and work in the UK; must have been in paid film, TV or cinema industry work for at least 40 days in the last 18 months; must be in financial difficulty due to Covid-19; and have earnt less than £30,420 in the 2019/20 financial year.

Recipients will be prioritised based on individual need, with special consideration for those with additional vulnerabilities that put them at greater personal and professional risk as a result of the pandemic.

The Fund is founded on a £1m donation from Amazon Prime Video, with further donations from Bafta, BBC Studios, Sky Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and ViacomCBS, as well as private donors and fundraising efforts.

It will open for applications on Wednesday, September 23.

It has been set up after research commissioned by the charity showed the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on groups who already face barriers to staying in the industry, including black, Asian, and minority ethnic workers; women; those living outside of London; and people with a disability.

It is the latest step in the Film and TV Charity’s Covid-19 Response programme; the Charity established the £3m Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund in April, which received nearly 3,000 applications in its first three weeks.

The Charity is looking to raise a further £900,000 to meet the costs of the Covid-19 response.

“We know that diverse talent are now being disproportionately impacted by the crisis due to a range of factors. So we have a real concern that without urgent support we will lose these people from our industry,” said Alex Pumfrey, CEO of the Charity. “We’re incredibly grateful for the generous support of Amazon Prime Video, many BAFTA Members, BBC Studios, Sky Studios, Sony and ViacomCBS, as well as the generous individuals and enthusiastic efforts of people in the industry who have made this possible.

“We have a real opportunity to take action to support workers in greatest need now in order to protect the diversity of our industry for the future and I hope that others will seize this moment to donate to our Covid-19 Response.”

“We know this help is much-needed right now as the UK creative industry rebuilds and productions tentatively re-start across the country,” added Georgia Brown, director of European Originals at Amazon Studios. “We’re delighted to be supporting the Film and TV Charity in their continued efforts to attract more donations so that even more members of our creative community, especially those who’ve been disproportionately affected, can be supported.”

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Funniest Moments at the 2020 Emmys

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Get by with a little help from Friends.

That was the case during the 2020 Emmys on Sunday, Sept. 20, with Jimmy Kimmel hosting the award show virtually from the Staples Center. During these unprecedented times, no one knew what to expect going into the live ceremony, including, you know, if it would still be funny or not. And guess what? It occasionally was!

Kimmel’s strategy was simple: Convince his famous friends to come along for the unprecedented journey, with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman showing up early in the night to provide some laughs. Plus, they both returned later on in the night (not just for the categories they were nominated in) for a fun reunion.

Plus, Ramy Youssef hilariously revealed what happens when you lose from the comfort of your own living room couch, we learned the weird activities celebrities have been doing to keep themselves busy during quarantine and Reese Witherspoon threw the best bash with a surprising theme. 

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Watch H.E.R. Soar Through Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ at Emmy Awards

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As the first major pandemic awards show, the 2020 Emmys were fascinating and numbing, joyous and sad, unprecedented in most ways and, to our lockdown-dulled senses, all too familiar in others.

While Jimmy Kimmel made many jokes about the situation in his audience-less (and thankless) role as host, if there was one person who made the viewing audience feel like she was performing in an arena filled with people, it was Grammy-winning R&B singer H.E.R., who delivered a powerful version of Prince’s classic “Nothing Compares 2 U” during the show’s “In Memoriam” segment. Images of the many personalities from the television world who have died in the past 12 months were showed while she sang.

H.E.R. sang a rousing version of the song about love and loss, standing up from her piano to deliver the final verse (and inadvertently distracting from the image of filmmaker and director Lynn Shelton, who died in August).

It wasn’t the first time this year that H.E.R. covered Prince: The late artist was honored by a wide variety of performers at the Grammy Awards’ annual tribute concert, which is taped a day or two after the main show. H.E.R. was a featured performer along with John Legend, Mavis Staples, Beck, Earth, Wind & Fire, St. Vincent and longtime Prince collaborators Sheila E., the Time and the Revolution — and she covered two of his songs, performing the opening number, “Let’s Go Crazy,” with fellow guitar slinger Gary Clarke Jr., and later in the show she delivered a powerful version of “The Beautiful Ones,” which is also from Prince’s galvanizing 1984 “Purple Rain” album and film.

 

 

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