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Emmys FYC Season Is Well Underway; How Would a WGA Strike Impact It?

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Emmy season kicked off months ago, but you’re forgiven if it hasn’t exactly been top of mind. After all, there have been plenty of recent distractions in TV land — both in real life and in the made-up world of “Succession” conglom Waystar Royco.

Jeff Shell, of course, kicked off a wild week of news on April 23 after the NBCUniversal CEO was fired, followed the next morning by Fox News host Tucker Carlson and CNN anchor Don Lemon also getting the ax. Casting a further distraction over the start of Emmy campaigning is the steady drumbeat of industry layoffs, including Disney’s second round of deep job cuts last week.

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No wonder it’s been hard to direct attention to any of the hundreds of new and returning shows returning now to just squeak in by the May 31 eligibility deadline. There’s enough actual drama in Hollywood that pretend drama doesn’t feel as urgent. (Well, except for what happened to Logan Roy.)

But the most pressing issue gripping the town has been the possibility of a writers strike as soon as this week. If the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers fail to come up with a deal, the impact of a work stoppage will be felt in every sector of the business — and beyond, in Los Angeles and other production hot spots. It perhaps seems trivial to bring the Emmy campaign into this conversation, but it’s really not: FYC is big business, and not just for publications like the one you’re reading right now. Awards campaigning and events employ thousands of workers — caterers, stylists, drivers, production engineers, designers, security, florists and so many more.

That’s why it’s worth asking the question: What would a strike mean for FYC events? (And with the potential for a Directors Guild of America strike in the not-so-distant future, it is still an important topic even if the WGA reaches a deal this week.) The answer is vague: No one really seems to know.

The 2007-08 WGA strike took place in the fall and winter, sparing the Emmys from having to make any hard decisions. (The only awards show that was really hit was the Golden Globes, which had to announce its winners via a press conference. Which was still less embarrassing than last year’s non-televised mess.)

FYC panels have been taking place since early March (including a particularly fun “Better Call Saul” event — full disclosure, I moderated that one, see above). But a May strike would put the remainder of this spring’s preplanned FYC events in limbo. Amazon, Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney and others already have pop-up activations in place to celebrate their key contenders — and there’s no going back from that, even if it means a screening and party with no panel. Would talent show up? Would that be seen as crossing a picket line?

The WGA didn’t respond to repeated inquiries about what talent at FYC events should do in the event of a strike, which might mean that those guidelines haven’t been figured out. It doesn’t seem likely that picketing would be extended to FYC spaces or events; one executive producer told me, “It really does seem like it’s all systems go on the campaign front. To my knowledge, we have never been told of any kind of adjustments that might have to be made. A strike is kind of living in its own universe. What my gut tells me is we’ll still be able to talk about our shows, just not generate new material.”

Meanwhile, it’s also way too early to speculate what a strike might mean for the Primetime Emmy Awards  ceremony, set for Sept. 18 on Fox. But the TV Academy is expected to share more details this week on FYC protocol should a strike commence. Says an Academy spokesman: “We know everyone is working diligently to reach a resolution to the guild negotiations. We’ll address any questions around FYC events as the need arises.”

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