Cedric the Entertainer to Host 2021 Emmy Awards for CBS With Limited, In-Person Audience

Done+Dusted and Reginald Hudlin will return as executive producers for the CBS telecast, which airs live on September 19.

Cedric the Entertainer
Maarten de Boer

CBS looked inside its own neighborhood to find this year’s Emmy host: Cedric the Entertainer will take the stage when the 73rd Primetime Emmys airs on Sept. 19. Cedric the Entertainer stars in the Eye network comedy “The Neighborhood,” which airs Mondays (and likely returns the night after the Emmys, kicking off the entire fall 2021 TV season for CBS).

Back to helm the Emmys together for a second conesecutive year are Hudlin Entertainment and Done+Dusted (which marks the fourth year in a row for that production company). Reginald Hudlin and Ian Stewart are executive producers and Hamish Hamilton will serve as director of the telecast. Last year Hudlin made history as the first-ever Black producer of the Emmy telecast.

The Television Academy and CBS announced the host and producer news on Monday morning, a day before nominations are revealed for this year’s Emmys. As expected, the ceremony will return to the Microsoft Theatre in downtown Los Angeles’ L.A. Live complex, in front of “a limited audience of nominees and their guests.” (Talk shows such as CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and kudocasts like the BET Awards and the MTV Video Music Awards — all on ViacomCBS properties — have welcomed back studio audiences in recent weeks as well.)

“The Neighborhood” will enter its fourth season this fall; at CBS, Cedric the Entertainer also recently hosted “The Greatest #AtHome Videos,” which began as specials during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and turned into a regular series. (Cedric the Entertainer produces through his A Bird And A Bear Entertainment shingle.) Scroll down to see a video reaction from the comedian regarding his new Emmy gig.

Cedric the Entertainer’s other hosting credits include the syndicated version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “Cedric’s Barber Battle,” “ComicView,” the game show “It’s Worth What?” and an episode of “WWE Raw.” His previous awards show hosting gigs include the Soul Train Awards.

“Since I was a little boy huddled up next to my grandmother, television has always been my reliable friend, so it is an enormous honor for me to host this year’s Emmy Awards,” Cedric the Entertainer said in a statement. “Throughout the roller-coaster of a year that we have all lived through, television has helped us stay connected as a society like never before. It not only entertained us, but as it always has, it helped to open our eyes, educate us, and hopefully brought about a better understanding of who we are as a people. I can’t wait to take the stage to celebrate all of the great shows and performances that made us laugh, cry, dance and sing over the past year.”

Added Jack Sussman, executive vice president, specials, music, live events and alternative programming for CBS: “Over the past year, television has united us as a community more than ever, bringing vital information and inspiring entertainment to viewers at a critical time in our lives. Now, who better to bring television audiences together to celebrate the industry’s top achievements than our very own King of Comedy, Cedric the Entertainer.”

Besides “The Neighborhood,” the comedian’s TV credits include “Power,” “The Last O.G.,” “The Soul Man,” “Cedric the Entertainer Presents,” “The Proud Family” and “The Steve Harvey Show.” In film, he’s been seen in “Barbershop” and its sequel; “Johnson Family Vacation,” “Intolerable Cruelty,” “Be Cool,” “Man of the House,” “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” and as the voice of Maurice in “Madagascar” and its sequels. He recently played legendary civil rights activist and leader Ralph Abernathy in the film “Son of the South” and appeared in “The Opening Act,” about a group of comedians trying to break through in the stand-up comedy world.

Cedric the Entertainer was also one of the Kings of Comedy headliners, along with Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Bernie Mac. Spike Lee later turned their tour into the comedy concert film “The Original Kings of Comedy.”

“Cedric the Entertainer has been a wonderful friend to the Television Academy and our Foundation, and we are thrilled that he will bring his unique comedic perspective to the Emmy ceremony and telecast that marks our return to celebrating nominees and presenters live and in-person,” said Frank Scherma, Chairman and CEO of the Academy.

Jimmy Kimmel hosted last year’s Primetime Emmys, which took place at the Staples Center without an audience, and with most of the presenters and winners joining in remotely. (A handful joined Kimmel in person.) The Primetime Emmys rotate among the four major broadcast networks via a wheel deal; the last time CBS ran the Emmys, in 2017, Stephen Colbert was host. But the two times before that, in 2009 and 2013, CBS once again looked to its Monday comedy lineup for a host: “How I Met Your Mother” star Neil Patrick Harris.

Last year’s telecast earned high marks from critics for the deft way Kimmel, Done+Dusted and Hudlin handled such unusual circumstances and still pulled off an entertaining affair.

“We are honored that CBS and the Television Academy have given us the opportunity to produce our fourth Emmys running and, once again, celebrate television’s biggest night with a live audience,” said Stewart, who serves as president of Done+Dusted. “We are equally excited to ‘get the band back together,’ for the second time, with the mega-talented Reginald and his crew at Hudlin Entertainment.”

Said Hudlin: “Last year, the restrictions of Covid freed me and the awesome talents at Done+Dusted to do a show that was different than any other award show. We don’t plan on repeating ourselves, but we certainly want to try some new ideas that could only be done on the Emmys.”

The 73rd Emmy Awards airs live on Sunday, Sept. 19 from coast to coast (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) on CBS, and will also stream live and on demand on Paramount Plus.

Here’s a reaction video to the news that Cedric the Entertainer posted this morning: