Creative Arts Emmys Producer Bob Bain on How This Year’s Return to In-Person Ceremonies Will Work

Creative Arts Emmys
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AWARDS CIRCUIT COLUMN LOGO A year after splitting the Creative Arts Emmys into a five-night, virtual event, the Television Academy is bringing the awards back to the people — well, some of them. This year’s three Creative Arts ceremonies will be held in a tent on the L.A. Live events deck in downtown Los Angeles, on Sept. 11 and 12, with a limited audience.

But despite the difficulty in organizing the events as the COVID -19 pandemic’s Delta variant causes a spike in cases, producer Bob Bain says he’s relieved to once again oversee these in-person shows.

“We’re hoping for something that — in terms of energy — feels a lot more like the prior shows that we used to do at the Microsoft Theatre than last year, when it was all virtual and Zooms that no one really wants to watch,” Bain says. “We are at least kind of back in the live-event business.”

“Kind of,” because just as with the Primetime Emmys on Sept. 19, the Creative Arts shows have been limited in the number of people — nominees only, and maximum four per group — who are allowed in the tent. That’s one of the reasons the show, normally split in two (with that exception of five virtual streams last year), has been expanded to three. The shows at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday will focus more on scripted entries, while the 1 p.m. Sunday ceremony is centered mostly on unscripted programs.

“What that means as an audience person is that you’re not sitting there for the traditional four-hour Creative Arts Emmys,” Bain says. “It’s a much better pacing, and these shows will be anywhere from an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes — which we believe is a much better experience for audience members, the nominees and the like.”

Audiences this year will be seated at tables, much like the setup at the Golden Globes or Critics Choice Awards, which Bain also produces. “That offers a lot of visuals and participant interaction and engagement that we don’t have in a proscenium-style presentation,” Bain says.

The tent will also have multiple stages, which will allow a quicker walk to the podium for winners. “Although that sounds minor, it can become pretty significant,” he says. “Because we have so many awards that we have to get through.”

The Television Academy expects around 500 people in the tent for each of the three Creative Arts shows. “It is a smaller audience than it’s been before, and it is a distanced audience,” Bain says.

As with the Primetime Emmys the following week, the Creative Arts shows will require both a proof of vaccination and a negative COVID PCR test within a specific timeframe. Those who can’t make it to the show, will be able to use video conferencing to bring a winner in live, Bain says.

After tapping Nicole Byer to host last year’s five-night event, Bain will just rely on presenters to flow through the categories this year. But each of the three shows will kick off with specific celebrities tapped to serve as “show openers, who fulfill the star value of what you would normally call a host.”

The three Creative Arts Emmys will be edited into a single telecast that airs on FXX on Sept. 18.

“The most challenging thing for us is not really knowing, as we close in on the dates, whether we’re 100% secure with the plan,” Bain says. “But for me, there’s nothing like doing a live event. We’re planning three fast-paced, variety-driven presentations, and looking forward to having butts in seats.”