The Emmys must go on, and the New York chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will become the first to hand out awards in this current shelter-at-home environment. The 63rd annual New York Emmy Awards will be announced on Saturday via a pre-produced webcast that could serve as a template for how other awards shows might proceed over the next few months.
The webcast — to be streamed live on the New York Emmy Awards website and on Facebook Live — will feature presenters opening sealed envelopes and announcing winners in 137 categories via remote locations that have been pre-taped all around New York. It takes the place of a gala originally scheduled to be held at the Marriott Marquis hotel on April 18.
“We’re giving it a try to be creative,” said Robert Lazo, NATAS’ interim director of awards and communications. “Yes, it would have been easier just to post a press release, but the board, especially for our chapter, decided to see if we could come up with something. We’re going to give it a shot and see how people like it.”
Local New York TV personalities who will be seen announcing winners include WABC-TV entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon, WCBS weekend anchor Jessica Moore, WPIX senior correspondent Marvin Scott, WNBC anchor David Ushery and News 12 Long Island reporter Virginia Huie. Sportscaster Michael Kay will also pay tribute to longtime New York Yankees radio voice John Sterling, who is receiving the New York chapter’s Governors’ Award.
Those presenters were taped this week on location at New York locales near their homes, including Oheka Castle in Huntington, Long Island, the waterfront in Weehawken, N.J., Rockefeller Center and Times Square.
“There was a camera person, a producer and then the presenter, at various locations,” Lazo said. “So the crew went from location to location they met the talent where they lived or near where they lived.”
NATAS is recommending that nominees and their colleagues watch and celebrate together via online conferencing tools such as Zoom or Blue Jeans. The New York chapter is also asking the winners to post their acceptance speeches on social media. “That way, we’ll have a chance to distribute what they have to say once they find out,” Lazo said.
N.J. Burkett, president of NATAS’ New York chapter and a correspondent WABC-TV, noted that this is the first time the New York Emmys have gone without an in-person ceremony since launching in 1957. “The Academy’s board of governors and I were determined to carry on this proud tradition, despite the extraordinary challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Added NATAS president/CEO Adam Sharp, president/CEO: “With the New York region at the national epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, we salute the broadcasters working tirelessly to keep the community informed. This year’s regional Emmy ceremony will look a little different, but the recognition of excellence is ever more timely.”
The use of remote technology, with minimal crew, is similar how the network late-night shows have been operating, along with several recent primetime TV specials. Meanwhile, local TV newscasts across the country have continued to broadcast with skeleton staff in their studios, along with reporters and anchors appearing from home.
Meanwhile, as its New York chapter figures out how to move forward with its award show, NATAS must still determine a contingency plan for the Emmy ceremonies that it has postponed. The 71st Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards, set for April 19; the 41st Annual Sports Emmy Awards, scheduled for April 28; and the 47th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, originally set to take place over three nights, June 12-14 at the Pasadena Convention Center, have all been put on hold.
This is all separate, of course, from the Primetime Emmys, which are administered by the L.A.-based Television Academy, separate from NATAS. But with that event scheduled for September, more tough decisions will have to be made soon.