As Emmy Season Hits the Pause Button, Here Are the Burning Unanswered Questions


The shows have been screened, panels attended, activations experienced, voting secured and the last free shrimp eaten. And now… we wait for January. The most unusual Emmy season in recent memory now breaks for a lengthy pause as the Oscar awards calendar takes over and faces some of the same limitations as the TV Academy faced with simultaneous WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

Normally, of course, the end of voting on Aug. 28 would have been followed by Television Academy peer group cocktail parties, the Creative Arts Emmys in early September, and then a week-long litany of shindigs leading up to the main Emmys ceremony — including Variety’s annual showrunners’ dinner celebration, which (and perhaps I’m biased here) is always my favorite event of the entire gantlet.

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That’s all on pause for now — well, except for the Creative Coalition, which still plans to hold its 2023 Television Humanitarian Awards on Sept. 14. As a non-profit unaffiliated with the studios, that org can still invite talent despite the strikes, and probably didn’t want to wait until January to raise funds for its programs supporting the arts.

But beyond that, this year’s Emmy results remain under lock and key with the TV Academy accountants until Jan. 6 and 7 (for the Creative Arts Emmys) and Jan. 15 (for the primetime ceremony). A few things we know: Fox is broadcasting the Emmys (with FXX airing an edited version of the Creative Arts shows), it’s once again at the Peacock Theater (formerly the Microsoft) at L.A. Live and Jesse Collins Entertainment has taken over as producer. But beyond that, several questions linger.

Who will host? In a previous column, I suggested “Community” alums Ken Jeong, Joel McHale and Yvette Nicole Brown get the gig. Fox didn’t have a host the last time it aired the Emmys in 2019; this time I figure the network would want to tap some of its internal stars — and both Jeong and McHale appear on multiple Fox series. Other Fox options could include Will Arnett (“Lego Masters”), David Spade (“Snake Oil”) and Gordon Ramsay (virtually every Fox cooking show). But it’s doubtful a final decision will be made until post-strike(s).

Will night two of the Creative Arts Emmys conflict with the Golden Globes? The Globes previously announced a Jan. 7 ceremony, and night two of the Creative Arts Emmys has been slated for the same night. TV Academy insiders believe the overlap will be minimal, as night two of the Creative Arts Emmys mostly focuses on unscripted fare, while the Globes does not. But there’s also the question of whether the Globes will have a broadcast partner at that point, and if so, whether that network will want to shift its date.

Who will represent the TV Academy? One awkward thing about moving the 2023 Emmys to January is that chairman/CEO Frank Scherma’s term expires at the end of the year, and there will be a new Academy leader at that point. Scherma’s tenure was already extended by a year due to the pandemic, but after five years, his time has drawn to a close. Still, we know the answer to this one. Per the Academy, because the 75th Emmys was conducted under his watch, Scherma will still appear on the Jan. 15 telecast — in what will be his final act as chairman/CEO.

Will there be Emmy parties? In 2001, after the Emmys was postponed twice in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the studios and networks scrapped the after-parties — and instead, there was just one post-ceremony celebration, dubbed the “Unity Ball.” Of course, that was during a somber period, when it seemed gauche to celebrate. This time, the industry may want to mark the post-strike return to business with multiple blowouts. Or, on the flip side, the Governors Gala may be enough, as a four-month-delayed Emmys may feel a bit anticlimactic at that point. After all, with plenty of post-strike catchup on their plates, attendees may want to forgo the pomp and circumstance and head home early for work the next day.

• What about the Daytime Emmys? The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is behind this one, which has been on hold since June. It’s starting to get too late to think about this year’s show, which happens to be a big anniversary: The 50th edition. In July, NATAS CEO Adam Sharp told me that by the end of the year, a Daytime Emmys event might interfere with next year’s show: “We usually put out the preview of categories in December and open for entries in January,” Sharp says. “So, if we get past the holidays, we’re into the next competition cycle. Once we start getting to the holiday season, the window somewhat closes for rescheduling. Otherwise, we’re getting closer to the next show than we were to the last one… We think there is still some window there in the mid fall. But it’s narrowing. And it’s concerning.” Perhaps NATAS will wind up having to pair a downsized Daytime Emmys with the Children’s & Family Emmys should it not happen until December.

• Is there a chance the Primetime Emmys would be canceled? Seems very unlikely. The Emmys are celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, a big milestone that comes with countless marketing opportunities. Would it ultimately be downsized to a press conference or luncheon if that January date comes without strike resolutions? Perhaps. But it’s probably a safe bet that a telecast won’t move forward sans stars like the embarrassing 1980 Emmys. That still moved forward despite a SAG strike that kept all but one actor — Powers Boothe — from attending. That was more than 40 years ago, when the TV viewing options were so slim that audiences would still watch a star-free awards show. They absolutely wouldn’t do that now.

• Will HBO’s “Succession” dominate? This one’s easy. Yes.

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