How the 2020 Emmys Pulled Off the Live Broadcast Amid COVID-19

The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards looked a little different this year.

The Emmys looked a little different this year. Prior to Sunday's semi-virtual ceremony, producers Reginald Hudlin and Ian Stewart admitted that "things are going to go wrong" during the live broadcast of the 72nd Primetime Emmys, but overall, the awards show was a huge success when you think about what all went into it. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Emmys followed strict social distancing guidelines, which meant there was no live audience, no red carpet and no pre-show.

To pull off such a big event without all these things, the Emmys had 130 different feeds from various locations across the world, approximately 125 different locations in 20 cities and 10 countries. As for how viewers saw those acceptance speeches and celebrity appearances, the stars were sent professional camera units, which included a ring light, a laptop, a boom mic, a hi-tech camera and other equipment. Producers made sure they were "simple" enough for even the technically challenged to be able to put together and plug in from wherever they are -- whether it be at home, in their backyard, a hotel, a bar or elsewhere. 

"We're doing this at the highest quality possible," Hudlin said ahead of the ceremony. "[The celebrities are] going to be our partners in this process."

Behind the scenes of the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards - Tyler Watt via Getty Images
Behind the scenes of the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards - Tyler Watt via Getty Images

Stars were visited at their homes with Emmy deliverers wearing HAZMAT suits. If they won, they got the Emmy, and if not -- well, Ramy Youssef showed what happened on Twitter. 

However, not everyone got a HAZMAT visit. "We're on the westside of the 405, and they just didn't want to deal with the traffic," Watchmen creator Damon Lindelof jokingly told reporters backstage. 

As expected, Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted the Emmys at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, was able to roll with the technical difficulties. "We got Jimmy Kimmel, who loves live TV and loves chaos," Stewart quipped days before the show. "I think he's actually hoping things do go wrong to tell you the truth."

Ahead of the Emmys, Stewart described producing the show as "walking a tightrope."

"You know you're not supposed to look down because if you walk a tightrope and you look down, you fall off. But you go out... there's no safety net," he mused. "What could possibly go wrong?"




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