'Anything can happen' pandemic virtual Emmys prepares for liftoff

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Television shows “Succession,” “Watchmen” and “Schitt’s Creek” look set for multiple wins at Sunday’s Emmy awards, but the early buzz was around the virtual ceremony and its potential for pajamas, alpacas, and designer hazmat suits.

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Jimmy Kimmel hosts television’s highest honors in a live awards show that promises to be full of surprises around the challenges of linking up in real time with nominees in 125 places around the world – in their homes, backyards, bedrooms or anywhere else.

The coronavirus pandemic has meant no red carpet and no physical audience for the three-hour show to be broadcast live on ABC. Instead, producers have sent camera kits and microphones to all the nominees, who are choosing how and where they want to be seen.

Ahead of the ceremony, Kimmel made fun of the “anything can happen” nature of the show.

“It’s all the stars and half the glamour,” he said in a promotional video, showing the comedian wearing gloves and spraying an Emmy statuette with sanitizer.

“No one goes home a loser. They’ll all be at home!” he added, showing video of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Rachel Brosnahan under her stairs and “Insecure” actress Issa Rae behind her sofa.

Some of the winners may get their trophies delivered by a person dressed in a custom black and white hazmat suit, designed to look like a tuxedo, producers said.

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“What could possibly go wrong? It’s sort of like walking a tightrope,” said Emmy co-producer Ian Stewart ahead of the ceremony. “It’s not stuffy. It’s not staged. We know that people, for instance, are having their own Emmys pajamas made.”

Producers say children and pets are expected to pop up. There’ll even be a guest appearance by an alpaca in a cheeky nod to the exotic animals popular in Zoom backdrops during pandemic shutdowns.

For the awards themselves, HBO’s alternative reality show “Watchmen,” infused with racial themes, is the favorite to take the best limited series on Sunday, along with actress Regina King.

“I think it’s ‘Watchmen’ all the way on Sunday,” said Gerrad Hall, senior TV editor at Entertainment Weekly. “It was a monumental series from the writing, performing, directing and technical aspects.”

Comedy “Schitt’s Creek” is expected to be another of the night’s big winners with its quirky tale of a wealthy family forced to move to a rundown motel.

In drama, Netflix, which dominated nominations with a record 160 total nods, is hoping thriller “Ozark” will bring the streaming platform its first best drama series Emmy.

HBO’s “Succession,” the wickedly juicy saga of a fractious media family, may thwart “Ozark,” despite not having been on the air since late 2019.

One of the night’s biggest cliffhangers looks to be between “Ozark” star Laura Linney and Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”) for best drama actress, awards pundits say.

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