The decision to scrap the trio of Governors Ball dinners (which normally take place after the two Creative Arts Emmys ceremonies, as well as the Primetime Emmys telecast) was made “as a precautionary measure to protect the health and safety of Emmy winners, nominees and guests during the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the org said.
The TV Academy released the changes on Monday morning, while chairman/CEO Frank Scherma announced a plan to donate $1 million to the Actors Fund’s COVID-19 relief initiative.
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for our industry; and though we are now making plans to get back to work, we know there are many still suffering from the work stoppage caused by the coronavirus,” Scherma said.
The two Creative Arts Emmys ceremonies were originally scheduled to be held Sept. 12 and 13 at the Microsoft Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. But with the COVID-19 pandemic still likely to be a concern, it became clear that the in-person events, especially with the sheer number of categories presented during the Creative Arts shows, couldn’t continue as planned.
Details are limited in how those awards will now be handed out; the Academy said that “an innovative virtual event taking place over several nights in September” would replace the two shows, but that “the new format for these ceremonies is currently in development.”
The Creative Arts shows focus mostly on artisan categories, such as art direction, casting, cinematography, costume, editing, makeup, sound mixing, technical direction, camerawork, music and much more. But also awarded during the shows are guest performers, animation series and several unscripted program categories. One ceremony normally focuses more on scripted, the other on unscripted and variety, although there is some overlap.
In 2016, the Creative Arts Emmys was first split into two, in order to allow categories more breathing room and accommodate the sheer number of awards handed out. Still, both shows are a marathon: Last year, 48 Emmys were handed out on Saturday night, while 49 were given on Sunday. (The Primetime telecast the following week handed out another 27 Emmys.)
Meanwhile, the Television Academy and ABC, which is this year’s broadcast partner for the 72nd Emmy Awards telecast, continue to plan on how to shape the show. The Emmys are still set to air on Sept. 20, but everything else is up in the air.
According to the Academy, as discussions regarding the format and production of the Emmys evolve, Scherma promises that “both the Academy and ABC are committed to delivering a show that honors television’s unparalleled role throughout 2020 in bringing people together during a worldwide pandemic as well as acknowledge and support the unprecedented national and global demand for social justice and equality.”
The TV Academy chose to donate to the Actors Fund because of its role in providing emergency financial assistance to entertainment industry workers. The Actors Fund said it has already provided $12.5 million to 10,598 people who work in performing arts and entertainment to meet basic needs due to layoffs, employment furloughs and other impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
“As the industry reemerges, we will continue to support our more than 24,000 members and our community through this donation and our Academy’s programs and resources,” Scherma said.
As for the decision to cancel the Governors Balls, the last time the event underwent a change was in 2001, when the post-Primetime Emmy event was renamed the “Unity Ball,” and was a slightly more casual affair. That’s because the Emmys that year finally took place after being canceled twice, in light of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and then the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan. That year, Academy officials felt the name change reflected the solemn nature of the moment, and also the fact that the studios, networks and agencies had all canceled their own parties, making the Academy event the one place the entire industry could gather.
[Photo: Donald Glover at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards Governors Ball in 2017.]