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Fox Successfully Petitions for ‘Rent’ to Compete in Variety Special Live Category at 2019 Emmys

The Television Academy has ruled that Fox’s version of “Rent” can submit in the variety special (live) category at this year’s Emmy Awards, Variety has learned.

Originally the performance was set to be a truly live event on a Sunday night in January, but performer Brennin Hunt broke his foot during the previous evening’s performance and therefore was unable to perform the full choreography needed for the show to go on fully as planned. The performance at which he got injured was shot live-to-tape and was what ultimately made the broadcast — with the exception of the final act, for which production did switch over to a true live performance on Sunday. The final act had altered choreography from the original plan so that Hunt could sit on stage and sing, even though his foot was in a cast. The original Broadway cast of Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer and Tony-winning musical also performed live to close out the show.

Fox petitioned the Academy to move the production from consideration in the variety special (prerecorded) category since the broadcaster aired an unedited taping of what they are calling the “opening night” performance; the Academy agreed.

“Although an unforeseen injury dictated that only a portion of ‘Rent’ was broadcast live, the entire program was performed in front of live audience without edit or interruption. The TV audience was able to experience the production as intended by our extraordinary cast and crew. I’m pleased the Academy recognized the unique circumstances of our situation,” executive producer Marc Platt tells Variety.

“Rent” will now follow in the footsteps of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (which not only made it onto the ballot but also won the trophy last year) with its submission in the variety special (live) category. Prior to last year, the categories were split differently: Prerecorded programs such as “Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special” and standup specials competed against each other in variety special, while the live programs including “Hairspray Live!” in 2017, the Super Bowl, and awards shows such as the Oscars, Grammys and Tonys submitted in special class program.

In addition to submitting in the variety special (live) category, “Rent” is vying for a number of performer and artisans spots on the 71st Annual Primetime Emmy ballot, including variety special directing for the production’s live stage director Michael Greif and live television director Alex Rudzinski.

Performers in these live musical specials submit in the limited series/TV movie categories. For “Rent,” Jordan Fishr, who played Mark Cohen, and Hunt, who played Roger Davis, are both submitting in the lead actor category, while Tinashe, who played Mimi Marquez is submitting in lead actress. In the supporting categories, “Rent” players Mario, who played Benjamin Coffin III; Valentina, who played Angel Dumott Schunard; and Brandon Victor Dixon, who played Tom Collins are all submitting in supporting actor. Vanessa Hudgens, this production’s Maureen Johnson, and Kiersey Clemons, who played Joanne Jefferson, are submitting in supporting actress.

The Creative Arts categories in which “Rent” is submitting are: limited series/tv movie/special casting, variety special production design, variety/nonfiction/reality programming costumes, multi-camera series or special hairstyling, multi-camera series or special makeup, variety special lighting design/lighting direction, music direction, variety or reality programming choreography, variety series or special sound mixing, and limited series/TV movie/special technical direction.

“Rent” was executive produced by Platt, Adam Siegel, Julie Larson, Allan Larson and Revolution Studios’ Vince Totino, Scott Hemming and Marla Levine. The musical was produced by 20th Century Fox Television.

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