Emmys: Pandemic, Protests Highlighted During Virtual Nominations Announcement

The Television Academy via Invision/AP

Television Academy CEO Frank Scherma spoke about the responsibility of "amplifying the voices that must be heard and telling the stories that must be told" in a ceremony led by socially distanced host Leslie Jones, with the reveal of this year's contenders done via video.

The Television Academy acknowledged the pressures and power of producing TV during a pandemic and amid a swell of racial justice protests during a socially distanced 2020 Emmy nominations ceremony.

Television Academy CEO Frank Scherma opened the 72nd Emmy Awards nominations in a cinder-block windowed room surrounded by Emmy statues. He spoke about "a year, unlike any other in recent memory," and the responsibility of "amplifying the voices that must be heard and telling the stories that must be told."

"As we persevere through the thick of a pandemic, the scale of which we have not seen in a century, television is right there with us, informing us, educating us, and yet still managing to entertain us while we're in the middle of so much unknown," Scherma said. "But 2020 isn't just about the global health crisis. This year, we are also bearing witness to one of the greatest fights for social justice in history, and it is our duty to use this medium [for] change."

Like last year's awards ceremony, the nominations announcement was available to stream on the Emmys' website and Facebook and YouTube accounts. However, the 2020 nominations were delivered through an entirely socially distanced ceremony led by actress, comedian and Supermarket Sweep host Leslie Jones. Not shying away from discussing the socially-distanced shift of this year's nominations, Jones led off by joking about being "tricked" into coming to an event without any other people around. "You told me there was gonna be other people here, Frank," Jones said. "You're not even here, Frank!"

The rest of her opening monologue recounted her "journey" to the Emmys announcement room, which involved an "empty" private plane, an empty dressing room and finally being brought to a locked-door room where it was only her and a cameraman named Shane. Soon after, on the screen behind her, Jones was joined by video by presenters Laverne Cox, Josh Gad and Tatiana Maslany through video conferencing. Cox acknowledged that all were "safely at home" before each read off nominees from various categories.

While high-profile pandemic-produced shows like One World: Together at Home, Some Good News and Saturday Night Seder weren't nominated, a number of the late-night shows that earned nominations in the variety talk series category produced episodes remotely over the past few months.