Emmys: Bizzers Brace Traffic Jams, Delays

As the big day draws near, the anxiety level is rising among bizzers about changes this year in getting to and from Monday’s Primetime Emmy Awards at downtown L.A.’s Nokia Theater.

The show’s shift to Monday has had repercussions for the red carpet — which has an entirely new configuration — and the planned traffic flow around the Nokia. For sure, these are first-world problems, but they are nonetheless creating headaches for talent, publicists, execs and others who plan to attend the Emmys.

Because it’s a weekday, the city of Los Angeles nixed shutting down the stretch of Figueroa Street in front of the L.A. Live plaza where the Nokia is located, as is usually done for the Emmys. That means the red carpet will shift from the plaza to the street behind the Nokia, Chick Hearn Court. And that, in turn, means an entirely new route for the limousines dropping off talent and VIPs for the event. There are concerns about gridlock among limos as the drop-off area will be reduced to one lane, as opposed to two lanes when Figueroa is closed off to accommodate the limos.

The reality of the new setup started to sink in on Wednesday as industryites began receiving their Emmy tickets and parking information for the event. The Primetime Emmy Awards shift to August every four years when NBC carries the telecast because of the network’s commitment to “Sunday Night Football.” But this year, NBC decided to move the Emmys from their usual Sunday berth because of the conflict with MTV’s VMAs, out of concern that the Emmycast’s demos would take a big hit if the kudocasts went head to head.

Because of Emmy’s shift to Monday, parking will be at a premium downtown. Several parking lots that would normally be stacked with Emmy limos on a Sunday will be in use on Monday by non-Emmy goers. As a result, the Television Academy had trimmed the number of limo parking passes distributed to about 800, compared with 1,200 in past years, at the behest of the city of L.A. To make up the difference, the Acad has instituted a “VIP Valet” parking level this year. The other concern among talent wranglers is the fact that the limo drop-off spot requires talent to walk through the Staples Center concourse area to get to the carpet.

With all the changes, Television Academy brass have been working overtime to make attendees aware of the changes this year. The most important message is to arrive early, according to Academy president-COO Maury McIntyre. The carpet opens at 2 p.m., an hour earlier than in past years.

“If you arrive at 4:30 for this event, you’re arriving late,” McIntyre told Variety. To help smooth the way for talent getting to the carpet, the Academy will mount a “Welcome Walk” inside the Staples Center lobby — complete with a seating area, cold drinks, seamstresses and makeup pros on hand to help with last-minute touch-ups.

“The carpet is a little further away this year, we acknowledge that,” McIntyre said, adding that the Staples area is air-conditioned. “We’re hoping to reduce the stress about the changes people may be having.”

McIntyre stressed that city traffic officials have been able to handle downtown traffic flow for weeknight events at Staples that draw far more attendees than the Emmy Awards, such as NHL and NBA finals games.

The move of the Emmy ceremony to Monday has added another layer of planning for many shows that are in production. Some have had to shut down production for the day — something that isn’t usually a problem on a Sunday — while some got creative in scheduling hiatuses to overlap with Emmys.

In the case of “American Horror Story,” new cast members Emma Roberts and Evan Peters will stay behind in New Orleans to work on Monday, and spare the show the expense of shutting down for the day, while most of the other actors head to L.A. for a long weekend.

Here’s a map showing the new configuration outside the Nokia this year:

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more
Comments 1