MTV may be ready to honor the best in film and television during its annual awards ceremony Monday night, but don’t expect the network to broadcast a predictable show for viewers. Instead, the spirit of this show — described as “more of a party” — will be revamped with a “fresh take” thanks to new host Zachary Levi and the way viewers consume content.
MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo general manager Amy Doyle says this year’s show, as it is every year, is truly the people’s show, always being rebranded based on the MTV audience’s approach to content.
“Every year we ask ourselves: How can we reinvent this show? What has changed? What new platforms have emerged and what patterns of viewing behavior are different? We look to bring in new elements to the show every year,” Doyle tells The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the show.
Thus far, the show’s innovative alterations have included combining movie and TV nominees in the same category and eliminating gender-based distinctions for its acting awards, a move that other awards-show counterparts (such as the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes and SAG Awards) have yet to practice. This year will also introduce new categories including reality royalty, most meme-able moment and best real-life hero, which were based on the content favored by MTV’s millennial audience, according to Doyle.
“It’s really looking at how our audience is consuming content,” Doyle says of the process of creating new categories. “We see memes being a very big part of their content experience so to speak. That idea came out of a look at what’s happening in culture and how our audience is experiencing content that they love.”
She added: “We know not the entirety of our audience is on linear. Some of our fans and audiences experience MTV through social media or through digital, so it was definitely a consideration, as it is every year, with how do we reach fans everywhere that they are and what’s the experience and what does it look like on all of these different platforms? How do you give it a twist?”
To give fans more insider access to this year’s show, MTV will be hosting both a red carpet live stream and MTV Movie & TV Awards Game Night co-viewing live stream. The red carpet will be hosted by B. Simone and MTV News’ Josh Horowitz and will feature celebrity interviews and coverage of the star-studded prelude to the show.
Additionally, Game Night will give fans an opportunity to not only view the show, but win on MTV’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter on Monday, June 17, at 9 p.m. ET. TV and internet personality Timothy DeLaGhetto will host the Game Night with comedian Darren “Big Baby” Brand, among additional guests. MTV is also partnering with TikTok to have fans celebrate their favorite characters within the year’s best movies and TV shows using hashtag challenge #Cosplayszn. After the challenge launched Wednesday, it has already garnered over 11.5M views and counting.
“The beauty of how things have changed, with the ways in which our audience is consuming content, is it just gives us so many opportunities to create a different experience around the MTV Movie & TV Awards on different platforms,” says Doyle. “We’ll stream the red carpet on Twitter and take advantage of a conversation that’s already happening to amplify it to make sure that we’re really going into the show as big and buzzy as possible. Then during the show, we’re going to be giving our fans a new co-viewing experience and live interactive show to give fans an opportunity to play along. They don’t just want to watch. They want to engage with what’s happening and be part of the conversation.”
This year, Shazam star Levi will be hosting the award show for the first time, something Doyle assures will lead to some fun surprises.
“You’ve seen him in Shazam. You’ve seen him in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. He’s given us a lot to work with and on top of it he’s so enthusiastic and so in on participating in every way possible that we feel so great about having him this year,” says Doyle.
Because Levi has never hosted their show before, his presentation could offer a “fresh angle to the show.” “He’s really a fresh take on hosting. He’s not a stand-up comedian but he is comedic. He’s musical and he’s dramatic. He’s also such a huge fan of the content and the celebrities that we’ll be celebrating that you know he’s just going to have a ton of fun.”
Doyle teases Levi will prove his “comedic chops” throughout the show by playing with the stars in the room, give audiences behind-the-scenes access, star in the ceremony’s infamous short films and even portray a character from Game of Thrones.
Though Levi will set out to entertain the audience, he won’t be the only one in the spotlight. This year’s recipients for the show’s biggest awards, the Generation and Trailblazer Awards, will be awarded to Jada Pinkett Smith and Dwayne Johnson, who Doyle says were “no brainer” selections.
Of Smith, Doyle says: “We’ve been following Jada Pinkett Smith’s career the whole time. She is an example of an artist who reinvests themselves. From being an actress to emerging in culture with Red Table Talk…. She shows that she’s this multifaceted entertainer. She’s a philanthropist. She gives back and has really blazed the trail for other women in Hollywood to showing all these different dimensions to herself.”
Meanwhile, Doyle admits that Johnson has always been at the top of their list, but the timing never panned out until this year.
“When you think about his career and the audiences he appeals to it’s pretty much everybody. He’s somebody that we have been trying to get in previous years and the timing didn’t work out. He was always interested and honored that we asked but the timing didn’t align,” Doyle says. Expect a “musical moment” to take place when Johnson takes the stage to receive the big honor. “It’s going to be fun,” Doyle teases.
Despite hosting a myriad of stars, Doyle says, the network just hopes the show can offer a sense of “escapism” for the audience and viewers. “The audience is coming for escapism and they don’t mind a little salad with their pizza with meaningful moments sprinkled in as well. I think the show strikes the right balance.”
This year’s presenters and attendees expected include Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Gavin Leatherwood, Noah Schnapp, Dave Bautista, Aubrey Plaza, Kumail Nanjiani and Ross Lynch, among others.
Elisabeth Moss, Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish will introduce performer Lizzo, something Doyle describes will “make for a good moment of female empowerment.” “Melissa McCarthy wanted to know what time Lizzo was performing because she wants to make sure she stays to see her and actually requested if she could introduce her.”
Avengers: Endgame, Game of Thrones and RBG lead with four nominations going into the fan-voted awards show.
The MTV Movie & TV Awards, hosted by Levi, are set to air Monday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
The show will be live-streamed on MTV.com and across all social media platforms starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.