An amped-up Emmy campaign season sees big names, bigger parties and some rule breakers

Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Julia Roberts, speaking at Amazon's "Homecoming" panel, deflected praise like it was her superpower, joking at one point that she shouldn't be "taking away from how impressed we felt about ourselves."

That "Homecoming" panel took place on a Sunday morning, drawing hundreds of the academy's 24,000-plus voting members. This year, the TV Academy, responding to gripes from networks and streamers, instituted a lottery system to attend these Emmy events, presumably so the same people wouldn't dominate the turnout night after night.

But you have to wonder: Who would have the time? This year, 220 shows requested an Emmy event slot, leading the academy to allow, for the first time, competitive events every night of the week as well as weekend afternoons, a concession to the glut of programming competing for voters' attention. Academy President Maury McIntyre said there were 40% more events than last year. Most, he added, sold out.

Netflix, in its second year of taking over sound stages at Hollywood's Raleigh Studios for a six-week Emmy promotional run, held events almost nightly at its 475-seat theater, enlisting the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Scorsese and director Paul Thomas Anderson to lead the conversations.

These pairings often led to memorable exchanges, sometimes emotional (Winfrey interviewing the Central Park Five, after a screening of the finale of Ava DuVernay's "When They See Us"), sometimes funny (Adam Sandler good-naturedly saying that even with all the movies he's written and directed, his late father's favorite was Anderson directing him in "Punch-Drunk Love").

National Geographic, meanwhile, leased the Greek Theatre, showcasing its Emmy contenders with a concert and festival experience. Mandy Moore sang a song during a "This Is Us" concert and panel at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre. And for a week, voters and fans could relax in Archie and Edith Bunker's iconic living room chairs at the Westfield Century City mall, a nod to the ABC "Live in Front of a Studio Audience" reboot of "All in the Family."

Ahead of nominations balloting, the academy also clarified its rules prohibiting block voting and quid-pro-quo deal-making and then, last week, brought the hammer down on an unspecified number of voters found guilty of violating the regulations.

Several television network executives, speaking on background, said the disqualifications likely came after a social media post or group email exchange touting specific Emmy contenders came to the Television Academy's attention. McIntyre didn't want to get into specifics, noting only that the offending actions were "very concerning" and that the academy believed it needed to take action.


"We do not feel it would have damaged the level of the full competition, but the mere hint of this kind of thing could be damaging," he said, adding that the industry was "good at policing itself."

The shenanigans, along with the record number of events, speak to how much the Emmy continues to mean to the television industry, particularly in these times of fragmented viewership.

"There's a lot of energy around the Emmys," McIntyre says. "It's a mark of excellence."

(c)2019 Los Angeles Times

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