Awards HQ May 24: Emmy Host Frontrunners, ‘The Boys’ Billboard Exclusive, Variety Show Conundrum

·22-min read

Greetings from Variety Awards Headquarters! Today is May 24, 2021, which means it’s 7 days until Emmy eligibility ends on May 31; 24 days until nomination-round voting starts on June 17; 32 days until the Daytime Emmys telecast on June 25; 35 days until nomination-round voting ends on June 28; 50 days until nominations are announced on July 13; 87 days until final-round voting starts on Aug. 19; and 118 days until the Primetime Emmys telecast on Sept. 19.

Whew. Last week was quite a marathon: WarnerMedia/Discovery. Talk of Amazon potentially acquiring MGM. The Upfronts Formerly Known As The Network Upfronts But Now Barely Mention The Networks. And so much more.

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The aftermath of all of those landmark moves is still to come. But perhaps now, with summer approaching, we can spend a little more time focusing on an this year’s increasingly interesting Emmy race.

For one thing, this is the final week that Emmy-eligible programs can premiere, before the May 31 cutoff. That’s why you’re seeing last-minute blockbuster premieres like HBO Max’s long-awaited “Friends” reunion, the return of HBO’s “In Treatment” and the latest season of Netflix’s “Master of None.”

But also as we head into June, CBS and the Television Academy will have to finalize this year’s producer, and after that, host, relatively soon. For host, beyond the obvious choices of CBS late night stars Stephen Colbert or James Corden, the Eye has no shortage of possibilities on its schedule: Cedric the Entertainer (“Welcome to the Neighborhood”) or Queen Latifah (“The Equalizer”) — or how about both? — come to mind. Expand the search to the larger ViacomCBS family, and I could see RuPaul as a possibility. (“The Daily Show’s” Trevor Noah already hosted the Grammys, so asking him to also handle the Emmys might be just too much for him.) I’ve been pushing the idea of Showtime’s Desus & Mero, who I think would be a lot of fun and bring a new energy to the show. Another interesting name I’ve heard people suggest (but I’m not sure he’d want to do) is “Schitt’s Creek” star Dan Levy.

Whomever CBS and the TV Academy choose, I hope the Emmys learns from the Oscars — which didn’t switch things up or reinvent the show as much as I was hoping they would — and take the opportunity this year to do something completely different. And now, on to this week’s newsletter. Let’s get going!

Reach Michael on Twitter @franklinavenue or email

EXCLUSIVE: Watch a Time-Lapse Video of ‘The Boys’ FYC Billboard Installation

For Your Consideration billboards are back — well, if they ever really went away. In the case of these two billboards for Amazon Prime Video’s “The Boys,” they’re pretty elaborate. Above, click on the image to watch a time lapse of the build out, installation and final aerial shot of “The Boys.”

Or if you want to see the billboards in person, the billboards are located on the corner of Venice Blvd. and La Cienega.

If you have a cool billboard you’d like us to feature in a future edition of AWARDS HQ, send it along!

AWARDS CIRCUIT COLUMN: Emmys Put a Band-Aid on the Variety Conundrum, but Here’s Why All Talk Shows Deserve a Nomination

In this week’s: Awards Circuit column, I dig into what momentarily looked like it would be the controversy of the year: The decision to merge variety talk and variety sketch back together. In deciding to not follow through on that change, the TV Academy averted a showdown. But the question of what to do with the variety categories is far from resolved. I write:

After both the talk and sketch TV communities balked at the category merger, talk of a boycott even surfaced — a problem when the Emmy hosts generally come from this field. The TV Academy reversed course and decided to keep the categories separate. But that only solved the self-inflicted crisis created by that December announcement. What it doesn’t answer are the still unresolved questions of where to ultimately put sketch shows (since their numbers are dwindling and it is a bit out of step to keep them in their own category) and how to better recognize the wide diaspora of talk.

Maybe we should merge the variety-minded late night shows (which often contain live and pre-taped skits) with sketch shows. And perhaps a straight-ahead talk category should focus on shows where yammering is the key sport — John Oliver, Bill Maher, Desus & Mero. True hybrids, like Stephen Colbert, can choose where to compete.

But I will resurrect my idea from last year: Why not follow the lead of the L.A. Area Emmys, where *every* newscast is nominated, and the winner is selected from the entire field?

Read the full column here.

BET Awards to Return in June With a Live, Vaccinated Audience

A year after the BET Awards became one of the first major awards to take place during the pandemic (two days after the Daytime Emmys ran via a virtual event), the ceremony will return next month as the first to invite vaccinated fans to be a part of the audience.

BET announced last week that the 2021 BET Awards will return with a live event on Sunday, June 27, from the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live. The network will invite vaccinated individuals to register (starting May 27) for consideration to be a part of the audience. BET said it will “work closely with Los Angeles County to support community vaccination efforts and ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocols.”

BET president Scott Mills said he hoped the BET Awards announcement would help lend to vaccination awareness. The network has helped raise more than $19 million to assist people impacted by COVID-19.

Read more here.

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WATCH MY SHOW: ‘The Flight Attendant’s’ Steve Yockey Fills Out Our Showrunner Seven

Based on the novel of the same name by author Chris Bohjalian, “The Flight Attendant” is a comedic murder mystery starring Kaley Cuoco as flight attendant Cassie Bowden, who wakes up in a hotel room next to a dead man – and no idea what happened. Michiel Huisman, Rosie Perez, Zosia Mamet, Michelle Gomez, T.R. Knight, Colin Woodell, Merle Dandridge, Griffin Matthews and Nolan Gerard Funk also star in Season 1; “The Flight Attendant” has been renewed for a second season, which will feature a new storyline and adventure for Cassie. We asked co-showrunner and executive producer Steve Yockey to fill out our “Watch My Show!” survey; here are his answers on behalf of “The Flight Attendant.”

Sum up your show’s pitch on one sentence.
Charismatic, impulsive flight attendant Cassie Bowden finds herself embroiled in a Hitchcock-level international mystery while dealing with the voices in her head and a killer drinking problem.

What’s an alternate title for your show?
“Cassie Bowden: Amateur Sleuth”

What do we need to know before tuning in?
Nothing. Just get on the ride.

Give us an equation for your show.
(Vodka + Giant Rabbits + Law Enforcement – Naturalism) x Air Travel + (Anxiety x Exactly one HELLO KITTY flash drive + Romance) = The Flight Attendant

What’s the best thing someone said about your show?
“Cassie moves through the world like a flesh-and-blood cartoon, careening from drunkenness to lucidity.” Doreen St. Felix in The New Yorker

If you could work on any other series in TV, what would it be?
“Killing Eve.”

Finish this sentence, ‘If you like, you’ll love our show.’
“If you like thrills, mysteries, and dark screwball comedies, you’ll love our show.”

AWARDS CIRCUIT PODCAST: ‘Bridgerton’ Star Phoebe Dynevor on Returning for Season 2 and What to Expect as the Show’s Focus Shifts

Phoebe Dynevor knows you’re still processing the news that Regé-Jean Page won’t be back on Season 2 of Netflix’s juicy “Bridgerton.” But rest assured, Phoebe and Simon — a.k.a. the Duke and Duchess of Hastings — are doing quite fine. Dynevor has just returned to the set of “Bridgerton,” and confirms Phoebe will still be a major part of the action as she now turns her attention to finding true love for her brother, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey).

Based on Julia Quinn’s best-selling series of novels, “Bridgerton” is set in the lavish and competitive world of London high society during the Regency period of the early 1800s. “Bridgerton” has already been renewed through Season 4, so there’s plenty of your period soapy obsession to come. But because each season will be inspired by a different book in the series, that means the focus on each Bridgerton child will change.

The Variety Awards Circuit podcast recently spoke to Dynevor about what the last several months have been like for the actor, who has quite the busy year. She just wrapped a film and is now immediately back at work on the “Bridgerton” set. We began by talking about how it was a bit hard to celebrate the show’s success while in quarantine — but maybe that was a good thing. Listen below!

Listen by clicking below!

Also on this episode: John Wilson is a New York filmmaker who has obsessively been shooting the lives of the people around him and out in the world for years. Sometimes he asks their permission, and sometimes it’s better that he doesn’t. He has long compiled them into short films. But then HBO gave him a show, one that is also executive produced by Nathan Fielder, the “Nathan for You” star who knows a thing or two about highlighting the interesting contradictions and absurdities of every day people. On “How To With John Wilson,” as writer/director/cameraman/EP and narrator, Wilson takes simple questions, like how to make small talk or how to improve your memory, and he turns it into deep dives into humanity.

The Awards Circuit podcast recently spoke with Wilson to get more of an insight into his process, and also into some of the interesting personal details he has revealed, such as his daily chronicle of everything that he experiences.

But first, on the Variety Awards Circuit Roundtable, we recap this week’s broadcast upfronts and what surprised us about the greenlights, renewals and cancellations.

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.

More Than A Year Into COVID, Emmy FYC Season Is Still All About Drive-ins and Virtual Screenings

On a late April evening this year, dozens of cars sat parked in front of a large, inflatable screen outside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for a pop-up drive-in experience. Such socially distanced screenings have seen a resurgence in these pandemic times, but this wasn’t any ordinary drive-in.

This crowd consisted of Emmy voters, who had all made the trek to watch an episode of Bravo’s “Top Chef” while snacking on such artisan dishes as Korean fried chicken with a kimchi dipping sauce, a pupusa with braised jerk pork and cheddar masa, and popcorn sprinkled with chicken-skin furikake and spiced caramel.

It was a twist on the Emmy For Your Consideration events of yore, when Television Academy members and their guests would trek to a venue to watch an episode of a contender, sit through a panel with series stars and producers, and then gorge on free food and booze in the lobby. Except this is 2021, a year after the Television Academy shut down all in-person FYC events, and we’re still dealing with limitations due to COVID-19.

As more people receive their vaccine, the country is slowly beginning to open up, but large-scale in-person gatherings are still a way off. That’s why the Academy put very narrow parameters on what can or can’t be done this year: Either virtual screenings/panels, or drive-in events. That’s it.

So what does FYC look like, circa 2021? Read on here.

Canadian Screen Awards Gives ‘Schitt’s Creek’ One Last Round of Love

It’s not over until it’s over… and now, sadly, this may truly bring the “Schitt’s Creek” awards journey to a close. And how appropriate it’s the Canadian Screen Awards, given the show’s origins from the north.

“Schitt’s Creek” landed eight Canadian Screen Awards for its sixth and final season, including best comedy series; best comedy direction, for Andrew Cividino and Daniel Levy; best comedy writing, for Levy; and the sixth win in a row for Catherine O’Hara as best lead actress in comedy.

Among other categories, “Canada’s Drag Race” landed five wins, including best reality/competition program or series.

“Transplant,” which airs in the U.S. on NBC but hails from CTV, won best drama series.

The full list of winners can be found here.

WATCH MY SHOW: ‘Genius: Aretha’s’ Anthony Hemingway Fills Out Our Showrunner Seven

The four-part “Genius: Aretha,” the latest in Nat Geo’s “Genius” series, explores Aretha Franklin’s musical genius and incomparable career, as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world. Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy Award-winning Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet, “The Color Purple”) plays Franklin, while Emmy-winning Courtney B. Vance stars as her father, C.L. Franklin. Among executive producers, Pulitzer Prize recipient, MacArthur “Genius” grant receiver and Tony Award winner Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog/Underdog”) is showrunner, executive producer and lead writer. Emmy, Golden Globe and BAFTA TV Award winner Anthony Hemingway (“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”) is EP as well as director. We asked Hemingway to fill out our “Watch My Show!” survey; here are his answers on behalf of “Genius: Aretha.”

Sum up your show’s pitch on one sentence.
A transformative, shocking and untold, intimate, rags to riches, humanizing story of the musical genius – Aretha Franklin and her lasting contributions as The Queen of Soul.

What’s an alternate title for your show?
“ARETHA: The Making of An Icon”

What do we need to know before tuning in?
The narrative tells a complicated, but very relatable story. The series honors the legacy of Aretha Franklin by humanizing the icon we celebrate. And musically, you’re not gonna hear every popular hit Aretha made. As a fan myself, I love the music choices we selected to tell this story because Aretha has so many hits and music that is never highlighted. It’s gonna make you pull out your vinyl and have a full Aretha moment.

Give us an equation for your show.
A Musical Genius + Vision + Purpose + Hard Work + Determination + Tenacity x Her Activism ÷ The Times + The Gift of Connection = Human Syncrenicity

What’s the best thing someone said about your show?
Someone said that ‘Genius: Aretha’ helped them realize their shortcomings did not have to paint the picture of their future; they could fail, get back up and push forward toward their dreams.

If you could work on any other series in TV, what would it be?
Anything Courtney B. Vance is doing.

Finish this sentence, ‘If you like, you’ll love our show.’
“If you like human stories that are unexpected and visually stimulating, you’ll love our show.”

TV PICKS: ‘Mythic Quest’ Star Danny Pudi Shares His Guilty Pleasures and More

We asked Danny Pudi, who plays head of monetization Brad — the enemy of fun — in Apple TV Plus’ “Mythic Quest,” to share his TV guilty TV pleasure (Can be of all time, or currently. Cheesy reality show? Campy sitcom? Obscure public access show? Anything applies!); his “deep cut” (the show he recommends that isn’t as well known, past or present); and “show mate” (the show that, if you were stuck on a desert island with only one DVD, you’d choose to be the most important/most influential/best TV show in your life). Here are his answers:

GUILTY TV PLEASURE: “Nailed It” is a very comforting show. Nicole Byer is hilarious, I usually learn something new about buttermilk frosting or fondant, and the baking fails are deeply relatable. It’s also often playing in the lobby at my allergist’s office which makes the time pass quickly.

DEEP CUT: I’m not sure if it’s a deep cut, but a show I like to recommend is “What We Do in the Shadows.” It’s a wonderfully bizarre world full of eccentric vampires, and the ensemble’s commitment is very fun to watch.

SHOW MATE: Can we flip a coin?

If it is Heads, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” would be a good companion. One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting next to my brother waaaaay too close to our tv and watching him crack up at one of their sketches. Watching The Argument sketch, or The Ministry of Silly Walks sketch would bring me lots of joy and good memories.

If it is Tails, “The Office” would also be a good companion. When I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting, “The Office” was the show I didn’t miss. Every Thursday, I looked forward to hearing that theme song and hanging out with the gang at Dunder Mifflin. I was so inspired by their ability to find comedy in the regular, everyday moments. And then out of nowhere, they’d come at you with a quieter, honest scene between characters and it would take my breath away. It felt so exciting to watch a comedy filled with so much heart.

FYC Exclusive: Derek DelGaudio’s Hulu Special ‘In & Of Itself’ to Get a Week-Long Theatrical Run in New York

Derek DelGaudio’s ‘In & Of Itself’” is finally hitting the big screen. The Hulu special will run at the IFC Center in New York from May 28 to June 3, marking the first time audiences can see the film version of the stage show in an actual theater.

“In & Of Itself” was originally slated to premiere in person at SXSW last year. But then the pandemic hit, and although the film was indeed first seen in 2020 through SXSW, it was screened virtually. It won SXSW’s Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award, before premiering on Hulu this past January.

The theatrical run is part of Hulu’s For Your Consideration campaign for “In & Of Itself,” which was directed by Frank Oz.

“This is the very thing we’ve wanted for a year and a month,” Oz said of finally being able to see “In & Of Itself” in a theater. “We were so excited about the SXSW showing. We really have never seen it with a whole audience.”

Read more here.

WATCH MY SHOW and TV PICKS: ‘The Bite’ Creators Robert and Michelle King, and Star Audra McDonald, Fill Out Our Surveys

From creators Robert and Michelle King (“The Good Fight,” “The Good Wife”), Spectrum Originals’ new series “The Bite” revolves around neighbors Rachel (Audra McDonald, “The Good Fight”) and Lily (Taylor Schilling, “Orange is the New Black”) as deadly new strain of a virus arrives in New York City. Yes, it’s COVID meets zombies, and the Kings filled out our “Watch My Show” survey to share why we should tune in.

Sum up your show’s pitch on one sentence.
What happens when a New York City doctor (Audra McDonald) and the dominatrix upstairs (Taylor Schilling) are working remotely during COVID when another virus emerges that turns people into zombies.

What’s an alternate title for your show?
“Second Wave”

What do we need to know before tuning in?
No actual zombies were harmed during the making of this show.

Give us an equation for your show.
Broadway superstars + zombies + satire – any shred of personal dignity = “The Bite”

What’s the best thing someone said about your show?
“Wow, it’s just like ‘Citizen Kane’ — but with zombies!”

If you could work on any other series in TV, what would it be?
“The Dick Van Dyke Show” because Carl Reiner was perfect in every way, and people would call us wunderkinds.

Finish this sentence, ‘If you like, you’ll love our show.’
“If you like zombie DJ’s, zombie models, and zombie kittens, you’ll love our show.”

Meanwhile, we asked McDonald to share her TV guilty TV pleasure (Can be of all time, or currently. Cheesy reality show? Campy sitcom? Obscure public access show? Anything applies!); her “deep cut” (the show he recommends that isn’t as well known, past or present); and “show mate” (the show that, if you were stuck on a desert island with only one DVD, you’d choose to be the most important/most influential/best TV show in your life). Here are her answers:

GUILTY PLEASURE: I’ve been watching a lot of “Love It Or List It” on HGTV. I love Hilary and David. You see these houses they go into, you see the couples that are in there and they have to decide whether they are going to keep their house or sell it.

DEEP CUT: Any Mike Birbiglia comedy special, particularly “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.” It’s not stand-up, it’s storytelling and they are incredible. I was falling out of bed laughing.. it was just so funny!

SHOW MATE: “The Good Fight”!

Clayton Davis’ Emmy Predictions: Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and Drama Series

Writes Clayton: There are a few passionate picks that are in the mix for Emmy consideration. Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”) and Jean Smart (“Hacks”) could be the leading contenders, but there are a couple of names that could leap in front. Tracee Ellis Ross has received multiple nominations for her work on “Black-ish” and is due another for her performance as the matron Rainbow. Peacock’s “Girls5eva” is having a moment and could do wonders for the new streaming platform, including nominations for either three-time Emmy nominee Sara Bareilles and Renée Elise Goldsberry, who will also be in the hunt for her work in “Hamilton” in the supporting limited series/TV movie actress category. But, they’re not the only musical performers in the hunt, as Jane Levy’s turn in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” could bring her first career nod.”

Here are his comedy actress picks:

1. Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant” (HBO Max)
2. Jean Smart, “Hacks” (HBO Max)
3. Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish” (ABC)
4. Allison Janney, “Mom” (CBS)
5. Jane Levy, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC)
6. Renée Elise Goldsberry, “Girls5eva” (Peacock)

As for drama actress, Clayton writes: This category doesn’t have a deep bench of selections as in previous years. Emma Corrin and Olivia Colman look all but assured nominations for “The Crown,” especially given its frontrunner status for drama series. Former Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss could pose their greatest threat for her work in the new season of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which is roaring back with audiences and critics.

Last year we had history made with Zendaya winning the category for “Euphoria”: she became the second Black actress and the youngest ever to win. There have never been more than two Black women nominated in the same year, but we have a possibility to have three with Uzo Aduba (“In Treatment”), Mj Rodriguez (“Pose”) and Jurnee Smollett (“Lovecraft Country”). There are also a few dark horses in the running for spots, including Myha’la Herrold (“Industry”) and Brandee Evans (“P-Valley”). We even have a Latina in the running as Christian Serratos received acclaim for her performance in “Selena: The Series.”

His picks:

1. Emma Corrin, “The Crown” (Netflix)
2. Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
3. Olivia Colman, “The Crown” (Netflix)
4. Uzo Aduba, “In Treatment” (HBO)
5. Mj Rodriguez, “Pose” (FX)
6. Jurnee Smollett, “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)

Check out all of Clayton’s predictions here.

The Week Ahead

Monday, May 24, 5 p.m. PT: Variety Streaming Room Presents: An Exclusive Screening & Q&A With the Actors, Director & Executive Producer of AMC’s “Gangs of London.” Go here to register.

Monday, May 24, 5 p.m. PT: Hulu invites Television Academy National Active members to American High FYC event. Click here to watch the event on the Television Academy’s Viewing Platform.

Monday, May 24, 5 p.m. PT: CBS Studios invites Television Academy National Active members to “The Neighborhood” FYC event. Click here to watch the event on the Television Academy’s Viewing Platform.

Tuesday, May 25, 10 a.m. PT: The CW announces its fall 2021 lineup.

Tuesday, May 25, 5 p.m. PT: Variety Streaming Room presents: An Exclusive Q&A With the Actors, Head Writer / Executive Producer & Director / Executive Producer of “WandaVision.” Go here to register.

Tuesday, May 25, 5 p.m. PT: Smithsonian and Paramount Plus invites Television Academy National Active members to “Cher & the Loneliest Elephant” FYC event. Click here to watch the event on the Television Academy’s Viewing Platform.

Tuesday, May 25, 5 p.m. PT: FX invites Television Academy National Active members to “Framing Britney Spears” FYC event. Click here to watch the event.

Tuesday, May 25, 7 p.m. PT: Netflix invites Television Academy National Active members to “Master of None” FYC event. Click here to register for the lottery to attend.

Tuesday, May 25, 7:15 p.m. PT: 20th Television invites Television Academy National Active members to “This Is Us” FYC event at the “Disney Drive-In” at the Rose Bowl. Click here to register for the RSVP Lottery.

Wednesday, May 26, 5 p.m. PT: Opening night of the Variety and Sony Pictures TV Virtual FYC House, featuring panels and other unique attractions. Go here to register.

Wednesday, May 26, 5 p.m. PT: Fox invites Television Academy National Active members to a virtual event: “The Masked Singer.” Click here to register for the event.

Wednesday, May 26, 7 p.m. PT: Universal Studio Group invites Television Academy National Active members to “The Equalizer” FYC event. Click here to watch the event.

Thursday, May 27, 5 p.m.: NBC Universal invites Television Academy National Active members to “Late Night with Seth Meyers” FYC event. Click here to watch the event on the Television Academy’s Viewing Platform.

Thursday, May 27, 5 p.m. PT: HBO invites Television Academy National Active members to “The Nevers” FYC event. Click here to watch the event on the Television Academy’s Viewing Platform.

Friday, May 28, 5 p.m. PT: Warner Bros. Television invites Television Academy National Active members to “Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square” FYC event. Click here to watch the event on the Television Academy’s Viewing Platform.

Premiere dates: TUESDAY, MAY 25: “Mental Samurai” (returning/Fox); “Mr. Inbetween” (returning/FX). WEDNESDAY, MAY 26: “The $100,000 Pyramid” and “Press Your Luck” (returning/ABC); “The Bold Type” (returning/Freeform); “Crime Scene Kitchen” (new/Fox). THURSDAY, MAY 27: “Friends: The Reunion” (new/HBO Max); “Rugrats” (revival/Paramount Plus). FRIDAY, MAY 28: “The Kominsky Method” (returning/Netflix); “Lucifer” (returning/Netflix); “Panic” (new/Amazon Prime Video); “Plan B” (new film/Hulu). SATURDAY, MAY 29: “Oslo” (new film/HBO).

Send Me Your Questions, Comments and More!

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

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