Awards HQ July 26: No Governors Balls; How the Emmys Mostly Got This Year Right; ‘Ted Lasso’ Podcast; TV Academy’s First In-Person Event

·19 min read

Greetings from Variety Awards Headquarters! Today is July 26, 2021, which means it’s 24 days until final-round voting starts on Aug. 19; 35 days until final voting ends on Aug. 30; and 55 days until the Primetime Emmys telecast on Sept. 19.

More from Variety

As July ends (once again, how is time moving so fast?), we’re in a bit of a lull in the Emmy race. It’s still three weeks until voting begins — which gives everyone time to catch up on shows they missed, or rewatch the things they loved. Hell, we’re in such a lull right now that there isn’t even much in the way of new programming premiering this week.

Part of that may be tradition: We’re in the midst of the Tokyo Olympics, and even though interest in the Games appears to be down, it’s still a draw — and programmers are smart not to try to premiere anything too big while the Olympics makes its noise.

Of course, we’re all also distracted at the moment by the rise in COVID-19 cases, particularly in areas where vaccination rates are low. Sigh.

Whether this continues to become a bigger issue may be cause for concern inside the Television Academy, as it’s unclear now whether an indoor Emmy ceremony will make sense, or be possible, in September. But hopefully the COVID spike will have subsided by then.

By the way, the Television Academy took its first step to normalcy this past weekend, holding the L.A. Area Emmy Awards in-person, outside in front of its North Hollywood headquarters. I watched over livestream, and it was a lovely setting and a hopeful sign of the return to more events like this.

Last week we broke the news that the Emmy Governors Balls won’t be back just yet (a decision that especially makes sense in this current environment) and the dates for the Creative Arts Emmys.

More to come, as prep continues for what should be a wild Emmys Phase 2. Now, let’s get going!

Reach Michael on Twitter @franklinavenue or email

Emmys Governors Balls Canceled for a Second Year in a Row; Creative Arts Dates Announced

I don’t think anyone was surprised when the Television Academy confirmed, first to Variety, that the Governors Balls wouldn’t happen again this year. The shocking news would have been if they were back. But even before the Delta variant of COVID-19 began spreading and forcing a return in Los Angeles County to the mask mandate, it seemed like most folks would find it too soon to return to such a large-scale event.

The Governors Ball would have added an extra layer of stress to the event, including food service and more in-person contact — the kind of things that people will still be getting used to in September, and might be daunting with hundreds of people in attendance. Smaller parties, such as post-premiere events, are a bit more palatable.

That’s how the Academy landed on at least bringing back the smaller peer group gatherings honoring nominees in various categories, which usually take place throughout the week before the Primetime Emmys. The Emmy Nominee celebrations, which will take place at the Television Academy’s headquarters in North Hollywood, will give the org a chance to still honor nominated contenders in an intimate setting.

Meanwhile, the Creative Arts Emmys will return to the weekend before the Primetime Emmys telecast, and take place on Saturday, Sept. 11, and Sunday, Sept. 12. Just like the plans for this year’s Primetime Emmys ceremony, the live audience for the Creative Arts Emmys will be limited to nominees and their guests, and be held at the Microsoft Theatre in downtown Los Angeles’ LA Live complex.

How this year’s Creative Arts Emmys will be divided by categories on Sept. 11 and Sept. 12 will be announced later. Last year, in comparison, the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, which focus on artisans’ creative and technical achievements in television across all genres, were held as virtual, pre-taped livestreams over four nights — with a fifth night, also virtual, that aired on FXX. (All five were hosted by Nicole Byer.) This year’s Creative Arts Emmys ceremonies will be edited into a telecast to air on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. on FXX, the night before the Primetime Emmys telecast.

Read more here.

Awards Circuit Column: With a Mix of Critical Hits and Popular Fare, These Emmy Nominations Mostly Got It Right

Last week I admitted to being a bit of an optimist (I think I called myself a “Pollyanna”) when it came to this year’s Emmy nominees, and I mostly stand by it in my most recent Awards Circuit column. In particular, although I first questioned the practice of allowing voters to choose as many shows as they like on the nomination ballot, once it was explained to me, it started to make some sense:

There’s a lot to like with the 73rd Emmy nominations. For starters, Emmy voters have done what their Oscar voting counterparts have struggled to achieve in recent years: recognize a body of entertainment that is critically acclaimed and rife with examples of the art form at its highest, as well as a broad swath of mostly accessible fare that TV audiences have seen and enjoyed.

That includes comic book shows (“The Boys”), a new take on a popular film franchise (“Cobra Kai”), “Star Wars” and Marvel shows (“The Mandalorian” and “WandaVision,” respectively), a delicious, sudsy period drama (“Bridgerton”), and the feel-good comedy of the year (“Ted Lasso”). These are shows with big fan bases, including critics, who recognized most of them a couple of days later with the TCA Awards nominations.

And yet … I’ve heard the grumbling that the Television Academy could tweak the nomination process to broaden the scope even more, so you wouldn’t wind up with this imbalance of nominee haves and have-nots. Many are rightfully baffled by the org’s nomination-round ballots, which began allowing voting members a few years ago to select as many nominees as they see fit. So even though a category may have only five nominees, you might check the boxes on, say, the 12 that you really liked.

The Academy changed the voting rules four years ago in the wake of Peak TV, when the argument was made that there were too many worthy shows — hundreds, in fact — to force members to limit their selections to even 10. Giving voters the opportunity to cast a wider net would also allow some unexpected surprises, both pleasant (like last year’s “What We Do in the Shadows” comedy nod) or puzzling (sorry, “Emily in Paris,” that means you).

The Academy also made the change in response to some members trying to game the system. Back when voters ranked their favorites, or were limited in how many nominees they could choose, some members engaged in “sandbagging” — where they’d put their preferred nominee on top, followed by a list of long shots meant to neutralize any competition to their favorite show. And when it came time to rank winners, they’d put their choice as No. 1 — and that show’s biggest threat all the way at the bottom.

The more votes, the more there’s a consensus that a large percentage of members believe a certain submission is Emmy worthy. The unintended consequence is that the most-watched, or most-popular, shows get all the nominations. And other deserving ones get one or none.

Read more here.

WATCH MY SHOW: “The L Word: Generation Q” Showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryan Fills Out Our Survey

Marja-Lewis Ryan is the creator, showrunner, executive producer, director and writer of Showtime’s “The L Word: Generation Q,” a new take on “The L Word” franchise that returns for its second season on August 8. Ryan describes the show’s ongoing exploration as “generations of queerness.” In Season 2, Ryan directed four of this season’s 10 episodes (the first three episodes plus the season finale). We asked the showrunner/director to fill out our “Watch My Show!” survey and share why we should tune in.

Sum up your show’s pitch in one sentence.
Attractive queers in expensive blazers fall in and out of love at the most inopportune times.

What’s an alternate title for your show?
Oh God, I’m so bad at titles. But maybe just the more obvious title is Lesbians in Los Angeles.

What do we need to know before tuning in?
In the Season One Finale, Sophie cheated on Dani with Finley. Right when Sophie was supposed to choose between the two, we cut to black. But honestly, you should just go to a lesbian bar and watch it. You’ll get all the info you need.

Give us an equation for your show. (Blank plus blank minus blank times blank, etc.)
Greys Anatomy, minus scrubs and surgeries, plus a lot more sex, times a bunch of queers… and blazers.

What’s the best thing someone said about your show?
The best part of making stuff that people actually watch is hearing that they feel seen. This show does that for a lot of people. Any time I hear that, I know I’m onto something.

If you could work on any other series in TV, what would it be?
Better Things but (in case it must be spelled out) not with Louis CK. Pamela Adlon’s Better Things.

Finish this sentence: “If you like _______, you’ll love our show.”
If you like feeling squishy feelings, you’ll love our show.

Burning Emmy Question Corner: Why Was the Documentary ’76 Days’ Attributed to Pluto TV?

Lost a bit in all the Emmy nomination coverage earlier this month was the first-ever nod for ViacomCBS’ AVOD service Pluto TV: “76 Days,” nominated in the exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking category.

ViacomCBS touted it as the first-ever Emmy nomination for MTV Documentary Films, and that is indeed true. But the Television Academy credits Emmy nominations to the outlet that aired (or streamed) a program, which is why “76 Days” is attributed to Pluto.

Yes, that may seem strange too, since Pluto is an AVOD collection of live digital channels. But the lines are blurred these days, and this is another example of such — think about it, Spectrum is another cable provider that also is a programmer.

And indeed, MTV Documentary Films confirms that “76 Days” first ran on Pluto, via its documentary channel. It’s now also available to stream on Paramount Plus.

Pluto has become a bit of a home for films from the division run by Sheila Nevins. Earlier this year, Pluto also premiered two more MTV Documentary Films: “Hunger Ward” and “A Life Too Short.” (Interestingly, none of these actually air on MTV.)

The film examines the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, centered in Wuhan, China, and set inside four hospitals as healthcare workers and patients struggle to survive the pandemic. Directors of “76 Days” include Hao Wu, Weixi Chen and Anonymous. Executive Producers are Sheila Nevins, Bryn Mooser, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Naja Pham Lockwood, Jamie Chen and Roberto Grande.

Awards Circuit Podcast: ‘Ted Lasso’ Emmy Nominee Brett Goldstein on Exploring Different Sides of His ‘Angry and Hard’ Character

On Apple TV Plus’ “Ted Lasso,” Brett Goldstein plays Roy Kent, the gruff AFC Richmond team captain whose confidence makes his default being “angry and hard.” Variety’s Danielle Turchiano recently spoke to Goldstein for the Awards Circuit Podcast, and learned that Goldstein wasn’t even thinking about Roy’s voice — it just came naturally. “It was instinctive,” he says. “I just sort of did it. And I do know that there was probably fear from some people, like, ‘What’s he doing?’ But it felt right.”

Season 2 will follow Roy trying to figure out what life after AFC Richmond looks like, in addition to centering his relationship with Keeley (Juno Temple) both in his life and a bit more in the overall story.

“Ted Lasso” has received a stunning 20 Emmy nominations, the most ever for a freshman comedy, and nods for virtually its entire cast. Goldstein will compete in the supporting comedy actor category with co-stars Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed and Jeremy Swift, for example.

Click and listen below!

Also on this episode, we look at the various comedy acting categories — and yes, you better believe, “Ted Lasso” is everywhere.

Variety’s Emmy edition of the “Awards Circuit” podcast is hosted by Michael Schneider, Jazz Tangcay and Danielle Turchiano and is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in television. Each week during Emmy season, “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every Thursday.

First TV Academy In-Person Event in Over a Year: KCET Leads 2021 L.A. Area Emmy Wins, While KTLA Lands Two Top Newscast Awards

It was the first in-person event for the Television Academy in at least 16 months, and Saturday night’s L.A. Area Emmys — held outdoors, in front of the TV Academy’s North Hollywood headquarters — was another good sign that we’re marching back to a new normal (although, as we know, the rapid spread of the Delta variant among stubborn, ill-informed anti-vaxxers may change all that).

Public broadcaster KCET, which had led all local TV stations in nominations for the this year’s Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards, also wound up taking home the most (for the fifth year in a row), with nine awards. It was followed by Telemundo’s KVEA and Spectrum SportsNet, both of which landed six.

The Television Academy announced the 2021 Los Angeles Area Emmy Award winners in an in-person ceremony at its North Hollywood headquarters on Saturday. Spectrum News 1 journalist Giselle Fernández hosted this year’s awards ceremony, which was produced by Bob Bain and Bob Bain Productions.

Other big winners included KTLA-TV, which was named best morning newscast (between 4 a.m. and 11 a.m.) and evening newscast (between 7 p.m. to midnight).

KCET’s haul included Emmys in arts; information segment; L.A. local color; music composition; informational series (more than 50% remote); informational series (more than 50% studio); and independent programming.

LA CityView Media Group was awarded the 2021 Los Angeles Area Emmy Governors Award, for its more than three decades of covering news geared toward Angelenos and Southern Californians, especially this year’s public health department pandemic updates throughout 2020 to all local area news outlets.

Click here to see this year’s nominees and winners.

Enjoying Awards HQ? Get the most important stories delivered to your inbox every day by subscribing to other Variety newsletters.

Barry Jenkins’ ‘The Underground Railroad’ and Companion Film ‘The Gaze’ Featured at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image

Barry Jenkins’s Emmy-nominated adaptation of Colson Whitehead‘s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel “The Underground Railroad” will be featured at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image as part of a new gallery installation beginning July 30.

Jenkins’s film “The Gaze,” a nearly hour-long collection moving-image portraits of principal and background cast featured throughout the show’s ten episodes, will be the centerpiece of the exhibit. Also included wil be production and costume designs from the series.

Per the museum: “In ‘The Gaze’ (2021, 52 mins.), his companion piece to ‘The Underground Railroad,’ Jenkins further engages ideas about visibility, history, and power in the portraits of the series’ background actors, inspired by the work of artist Kerry James Marshall and set to composer Nicholas Britell’s haunting score. Dressed in period-inspired costumes created by costume designer Caroline Eselin across the various environments that comprise the series’ occasionally fantastical yet achingly resonant mid-nineteenth-century settings, the actors gaze directly at the viewer, evincing a mix of vulnerability, defiance, and candor.”

A members-only screening of select episodes of “The Underground Railroad” will also take place for museum members in its Redstone Theater on Sunday, August 15.

“Behind the Screen, An Act of Seeing: Barry’s Jenkins’s The Gaze” continues at the museum through October 31, 2021.

African American Film Critics Assn. Honors Steve McQueen, Wanda Sykes, Naomi Ackie, Michaela Coel, More

The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) revealed the Special Achievement Honorees for its 3rd annual AAFCA TV Honors. “Our 2021 Class of Honorees is a special group who are using their considerable gifts to extend television’s legacy as a shaper of culture and a connector of people,” said AAFCA president Gil Robertson.

Here are the honorees:

Steve McQueen will receive the 2021 AAFCA TV Honors Special Achievement Game Changer Award for “Small Axe,” his Amazon Studios five-part limited series.

Wanda Sykes (“The Upshaws”) will receive the 2021 AAFCA TV Honors Special Achievement Salute to Excellence Award for expanding the parameters of diversity and inclusion for both the Black and LGBTQ communities.

Naomi Ackie will receive the 2021 AAFCA TV Honors Special Achievement Horizon Award for her standout performances in “Master of None” and “Small Axe.”

Michaela Coel is the recipient of the 2021 AAFCA TV Honors Special Achievement Breakout Creative Award for her limited series “I May Destroy You.”

“Lupin,” Netflix’s cat-and-mouse series set in Paris and starring Omar Sy, nabs 2021 AAFCA TV Honors Special Achievement Best International Production Award.

“Queen Sugar,” spearheaded by Ava DuVernay on OWN, is the recipient of the 2021 AAFCA TV Honor’s Impact Award. HBO/HBO Max earns the 2021 AAFCA TV Honors Special Achievement Inclusion Award.

“We couldn’t be prouder to bestow AAFCA’s highest honors to this remarkable group of honorees responsible for diverse and inclusive content that uplifts and inspires,” said Robertson. “Our hope is that our industry will continue its tremendous strides towards a landscape with diversity and inclusion at its core.”

The 2021 ceremony will take place on Saturday, August 21 at the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey.

Variety Cover Story: How Stephen Colbert Survived the Pandemic, Trump and the Loss of Laughter

Variety co-editor-in-chief Cynthia Littleton has the definitive piece on Stephen Colbert, and in particular how he and “The Late Show” navigated this past year, in this week’s Variety magazine.

Tweets Cynthia: “This story was really a career highlight, thank you @StephenAtHome et al.” Cynthia was embedded with Colbert for one of “The Late Show’s” first nights back in the Ed Sullivan Theater. Here, Colbert and “The Late Show” team give Variety rare behind-the-scenes access as the show returned to full-bore production. Check out the cover story here.

And read on here: ‘We’re Not Going Away’: The Definitive Oral History of How Stephen Colbert Spent 15 Months Shooting ‘Late Show’ Virtually.

Happy Birthday, Norman Lear!

That’s it, that’s the post — Norman Lear turns 99 on July 27, and we are all still lucky that he’s around and still producing great TV!

Read my 2019 cover article about Norman Lear here.

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: This Week’s Promo Mailers

NBC Sports is looking to make a splash with its Tokyo 2020 mailer… in a really big way. To promote its coverage of the Summer Games, NBC Sports sent this huge box… featuring a life-size cutout of gymnastics champ Simone Biles. (It also came with a Team USA jacket, t-shirt and cap.) Now I can watch the Games and cheer on Simone Biles… while she stands next to me!

Summer time also means summer mailers, and both Disney Channel and HBO Max had the kids in mind. Disney Channel’s “your Summer just got cooler!” cooler featured towels, games, an Instax camera and more, while HBO Max created a full “Summer Together” at-home camp, themed to various properties on the streamer. We will be playing that Space Jam version of Uno and eating those s’mores.

That’s it for this week, a light batch of mailers as new launches slow down.

First Look: Fox’s Floral ‘Fantasy Island’ Billboard

To promote the launch of its new take on “Fantasy Island,” Fox has installed a massive, floral billboard on Sunset filled with flora. The billboard, which will be up until Aug. 22, promotes the Aug. 10 premiere of the new show, which stars Roselyn Sanchez. Here are the specs of the billboard:

• 6 species of flowers were custom sculpted
• Features over 25 species of plant life, 10 flowers, and hundreds of feet of LEDs
• Each flower was handmade and hand painted Took about a month and a half to fabricate
• Created in partnership with Fox Entertainment, Rapport World Wide & Midnight Oil Agency

“As we continue to see the return of OOH [out of home], these unique placements are especially memorable, allowing for an even stronger consumer experience,” said Rose Milgrom Kohn, Rapport’s associate director creative services.

The Week Ahead

FRIDAY, JULY 30, 11:30 a.m. – The Hollywood Walk of Fame honors Terry Crews (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “America’s Got Talent”). Tichina Arnold and Howie Mandel to present.

FRIDAY, JULY 30, 8 p.m. – Emmy nominee Cynthia Erivo (“Genius: Aretha”) in concert with the L.A. Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, in a program titled “Legendary Voices.”

Premiere dates: MONDAY, JULY 26: “Roswell, New Mexico” (returning/The CW). WEDNESDAY, JULY 28: “Love Is Blind: After the Altar” (new/Netflix). THURSDAY, JULY 29: “Behind the Music” (revival/Paramount Plus); “Dr. Death” (new/Peacock); “FBoy Island” (new/HBO Max). FRIDAY, JULY 30: “Burden of Truth” (returning/The CW); “Jungle Cruise” (movie/Disney Plus); “Outer Banks” (returning/Netflix); “The Pursuit of Love” (new/Amazon Prime Video); SUNDAY, AUG. 1: “Johnson” (new/Bounce).

Send Me Your Questions, Comments and More!

Please send your burning Emmy questions and suggestions to, and your hot tips as well! Thanks for reading.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.