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After last year’s five-night virtual affair, this year’s Creative Arts Emmys presentation may feel like a slight return to normalcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Nominees will have the chance to attend an in-person ceremony, taking place over two nights, Sept. 11 and 12, in an “indoor/outdoor” and socially distanced setting at The Event Deck at L.A. Live. The TV Academy had not announced a host as of press time, but presenters will include nominees Debbie Allen (who also will receive this year’s Governors Award), Hacks‘ Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Ted Lasso‘s Brendan Hunt and A Black Lady Sketch Show‘s Yvette Nicole Brown.
The TV Academy’s decision to limit the number of tickets to four per nomination no doubt will be felt during these two ceremonies (which will be edited into a two-hour broadcast, airing Sept. 18 on FXX), with crafts teams having to decide among themselves who will represent their work. (It might even be worse for the many producers vying for the chance to see their shows win at the Sept. 19 Primetime Emmys.)
But despite the limited capacity, the Creative Arts ceremonies likely will offer some alternatives to the primetime ceremony — at the main event, it would be an upset if Ted Lasso and The Crown don’t take home the top prizes in comedy and drama, respectively, whereas a show like Disney+’s The Mandalorian (nominated for 24 Emmys, 19 of which are in Creative Arts categories) could prove its technical supremacy at the earlier ceremony. It also offers a chance for the VFX-heavy horror drama Lovecraft Country to show it was worth additional story arcs after a single season (though voters may still take issue with the fact that HBO canceled the series in July after Emmy voting already was underway). And while WandaVision faces tough competition in the limited series categories, the Disney/Marvel series might do well over these two nights; it is certainly a frontrunner for original music and lyrics for “Agatha All Along,” a viral hit that would earn co-writer Kristen Anderson-Lopez EGOT status along with her writing partner and husband, Robert Lopez, the youngest person to hold the honor and the only one to earn a “double EGOT” for his multiple wins.
Also nominated for songwriting is Bo Burnham; he has five Creative Arts noms for his Netflix special Bo Burnham: Inside. He also is in the running for directing, editing and writing the special, which the multihyphenate comedian completed in quarantine. Another multiple nominee is Maya Rudolph, recognized this year for both guest actress in a comedy (Saturday Night Live) and character voiceover performance (Big Mouth) — two categories in which she earned her first Emmy wins last year. Her buzzy SNL performance as Kamala Harris could make her a shoo-in in the former, while her competition in the voiceover category includes real-life politician Stacey Abrams (for Black-ish).
SNL is the third-most-nominated series in Creative Arts (behind The Mandalorian and WandaVision) with 14 noms, six of which honor hosts in the guest categories — along with Rudolph, there is fellow SNL alum Kristen Wiig, previous winner Alec Baldwin and Dave Chappelle, Daniel Kaluuya and Dan Levy.
This year also could be a good one for RuPaul, host of Emmy favorite RuPaul’s Drag Race, which earned eight noms (its catty behind-the-scenes counterpart, RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked, collected three). RuPaul has won outstanding host in a reality/competition series for the past five years; a sixth win would be impressive, particularly if he once again fends off Padma Lakshmi (nominated with her Top Chef co-hosts Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons), who has been nominated 11 times without a win.
This story first appeared in the Sept. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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William Jackson Harper
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