Well, this was different! The Primetime Emmys were back for their 72nd installment, but this ceremony didn't look anything like it has in the past. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show was mostly virtual this year. Host Jimmy Kimmel still led the ceremony from the famed Staples Center, but there was no audience. Yet viewers still saw genuine reactions and plenty of stars: Producers sent camera crews or camera equipment to all the nominees, meaning there were up to 140 live feeds coming in from around the world (hence why the show took place from the Staples Center — it can handle all those feeds). The only thing that could have stopped the Emmys was an unstable Wi-Fi connection! Wonderwall.com has the rundown on what was buzzing at the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles (and around the world!) on Sept. 20, 2020, starting with host Jimmy Kimmel's opening monologue… Jimmy didn't shy away from the awkwardness of the Emmys, immediately calling them the "Pand-Emmys," a play on the word "pandemic." The now three-time host wondered why they were having the Emmys during a global health crisis and took potshots at the nominees and the shows, so at least there was some sense of normalcy. The show feigned having an audience during Jimmy's opening monologue before cameras showed that there was actually no one in the Staples Center (well, Jason Bateman sat among cardboard cut-outs of nominees in a silly bit.) "Of course there's no audience. This isn't a MAGA rally, it's the Emmys," Jimmy said. Jimmy went on to explain how the show was using webcams for its nominees, then showed all the stars watching from home. "What could possibly go right," he wondered. Let's find out…
Zendaya delivers an Emmys first
Zendaya had a euphoric reaction upon hearing she won the prize for outstanding lead actress in a drama for her performance on "Euphoria." Chances are she wasn't expecting it. Zendaya's win could probably be deemed an upset, as she bested Jennifer Aniston (past Emmy winner), Olivia Colman (Oscar winner), Sandra Oh (two-time Golden Globe winner), Laura Linney (four-time Emmy winner and two-time Golden Globe winner) and Jodie Comer (past Emmy winner). That is some steep competition! Also of note: At 24, Zendaya is the youngest ever winner in the category.
Rachel, Monica and Phoebe — all together again! During a fun moment of the telecast, Jimmy Kimmel decided to check in on Jennifer Aniston to see if she got back home after helping him open the show in person at the Staples Center. Jen, dressed in a robe, appeared inside her house. Suddenly Courteney Cox appeared in the frame. Jimmy was incredulous that Courteney was there. "Of course I'm here. We live together," Courteney said. Jen noted that they've been roommates "since 1994," a nod to their roles on "Friends." After that, Lisa Kudrow also appeared in the frame, saying she lives there too. "Friends" reunions never get old. Ever.
"Schitt's Creek" dominates the Emmys
Seven awards into the Emmys and it was already a big, big night for "Schitt's Creek." The show and its stars won the first seven prizes that were handed out and made Emmys history with an historic sweep of the top 7 comedy categories. As The Wrap reported, "No comedy series has swept all four acting awards at the Emmys before, much less all four acting awards plus the ones for writing and directing." Catherine O'Hara took home the trophy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series. Immediately after that, Eugene Levy won the outstanding lead actor in a comedy series award. Upon winning, Eugene said he found it ironic that "the straightest role I've ever played lands me an Emmy for a comedy performance." And then, as if that weren't enough, Daniel Levy scored the award for outstanding writing in a comedy series… before he and Andrew Cividino won for outstanding directing for a comedy series… then Daniel won again — the third in a row, mind you — this time for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series! As he accepted that last one, he quipped, "The internet's about to turn on me!" After that, Annie Murphy was named the winner in the outstanding supporting actress in a comedy category… and then the show was then named outstanding comedy series right after that! What made it even more special is that the "Schitt's Creek" cast was all together in Canada watching from their own party: The series' official Twitter feed explained, "Tonight, some Schitt's Creek cast and nominated team members have been able to gather for an #Emmys event in Toronto, adhering to Ontario's COVID-19 guidelines. All in attendance have been in isolation since returning negative COVID-19 tests."
He wasn't joking
When host Jimmy Kimmel spoke about "Schitt's Creek" early in the telecast, he mentioned that ABC's Standards and Practices department required the show's logo to flash across the screen whenever the comedy's name was uttered so that it was clear he wasn't actually cursing. It seemed like a funny thing to say, but Jimmy wasn't joking: The Wrap reported that it's indeed been a running requirement on broadcast networks that the title of "Schitt's Creek" cannot be said aloud without actually showing the title of the show every time it's said. Considering the fact that "Schitt's Creek" absolutely dominated the Emmys, the behind-the-scenes logo person was BUSY!
"Succession" succeeds big-time
While "Schitt's Creek" dominated the comedy slate, "Succession" did incredibly well in the drama categories. The hit HBO show won four awards for directing and writing night and Jeremy Strong won for best lead actor in a drama series. "Succession" also won the big one — the final award of the evening, best drama series. During that category's acceptance speech, "Succession" creator Jesse Armstrong eschewed the typical "thank you" message and instead dished out "unthank yous." Jesse decided to "unthank" the coronavirus, President Donald Trump, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, nationalist governments and "media moguls who keep them in power."
A moving speech for a rare award
The Governors Award is always one of the most respected awards at the Emmys — in fact, it's not even given out every year, and it's often given to ensembles. This year, it went to Tyler Perry and his Perry Foundation, making him the first individual to receive the honor since 2014. The producer, writer and filmmaker delivered a lengthy but moving speech in which he recalled the story of a quilt his grandmother gave him. "We are all sewing our own quilts… in my mother's quilt, she couldn't imagine me owning land that was once a Confederate Army base," he said. "I stand here tonight to say thank you to all of the people who are celebrating and know the value of every patch and every story and every color that makes up this quilt that is our business."
Emmys on fire!
Jennifer Aniston was one of a handful of big-name stars who joined host Jimmy Kimmel live on stage in person during the Emmys telecast. But after delivering some jokes as they prepared to announce the outstanding actress in a comedy series award, things got serious for the pair, forcing Jen to play a real-life firefighter. As the two playfully poked fun at coronavirus safety protocols by dousing the winner's envelope in anti-bacterial spray before lighting it on fire, the flames unexpectedly flared up after Jen thought she'd put them out and before Jimmy could snatch the envelope out of a trash bin. Jen continued to blast the fire, averting a crisis. "Thank god for Jennifer Aniston," Jimmy tweeted after the troubling moment.
H.E.R. performs during emotional goodbye segment
In one of the more moving moments of the Emmys, H.E.R. sang Sinead O'Connor's classic song "Nothing Compares 2 U," which was written by Prince, during the "In Memoriam" part of the show. Jimmy Kimmel introduced the segment by honoring Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away on Sept. 18. Jimmy called RBG "a compassionate, tireless champion of equality and justice." Soon, images of Regis Philbin, Naya Rivera, Kirk Douglas, Chadwick Boseman and many more flashed across the screen. Farewell, friends. You are all missed.
Social media reacts to "In Memoriam" snubs
Twitter wasn't happy that the Television Academy excluded several stars from the Emmys' annual "In Memoriam" segment. In particular, many were upset that NBA legend Kobe Bryant — a mainstay on sports programming during his long career — was left out following his death in a January helicopter crash, especially as the Emmys were aired from the Los Angeles Lakers' Staples Center, which is known as "the house that Kobe built." Fans were also let down that Broadway singer-actor Nick Cordero, who died from COVID-19 complications in July, wasn't included despite having prominent roles on TV shows including "Blue Bloods" and "Law & Order: SVU." Twitter was not happy that Kelly Preston — who appeared on TV shows and in many made-for TV movies — was excluded following her shocking death from breast cancer in July. ETOnline also noted that social media was disappointed that "Mythbusters" star Grant Imahara as well as "Monty Python" co-creator Terry Jones and horror icon Sid Haig — who both had notable TV resumes — were left out. Also passed over? Emmy nominee and two-time Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland, who died in July at 104.
Hand in a box
Talk about a technology win! Prior to announcing the winner of the award for outstanding variety talk series, Jimmy Kimmel told the audience that all the nominees (including himself) were sent boxes in advance, but only one of them had an Emmy in it. A remote control would open the box… and it actually worked after David Letterman announced "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver" as the winner. The box opened and a dummy hand had an Emmy in it. Confetti also shot out of the box. "Thank you to the Academy for sending what is essentially a small bomb to my house," host John quipped.
E! star drops out of preshow after positive COVID-19 test
E!'s Giuliana Rancic has been a staple at award show red carpets for two decades. However, she was not a part of the network's red carpet show on Sunday, telling viewers that she and her whole family tested positive for COVID-19, forcing her to stay home. "Hey, everyone. As I go into my 20th year on the E! red carpet I have to say I do not take missing an award show lightly, but unfortunately this year is just so different," she shared with fans. "As part of E! and NBCUniversal's very strict testing guidelines, especially before an event like this, I did find out that I tested positive for COVID-19. Now as much as I didn't want to hear that, I'm very thankful I heard it before I traveled and possibly could have exposed other people. So for that, I'm thankful." Brad Goreski and Nina Parker filled in for Giuliana.
Another COVID-19 positive celebrity reveals diagnosis on Emmy night
Like Giuliana Rancic, Vivica A. Fox was also forced to drop out of her hosting duties on E!'s "Live From the Red Carpet: The 2020 Emmy Awards" special after she, too, tested positive for the coronavirus. During the Sept. 20 broadcast, E!'s Brad Goreski read a statement from the actress explaining that she was isolating at home while recovering. "I'm terribly sorry I cannot be with my E! family tonight! Unfortunately, I have tested positive for the coronavirus," she shared.
On-site coronavirus tests for Emmy-going celebs
As if the nonexistent audience or lack of a red carpet wasn't enough to remind celebrities that we're still in a pandemic, the Emmys made absolutely sure nobody could forget, as those at the Staples Center appeared to be getting tested for COVID-19 on site. Photos even showed a mask-wearing Tracee Ellis Ross getting tested from the backseat of her car. Other photos showed the crew of the Emmys getting the same tests. Jason Sudeikis had a COVID-19 test on stage.
Social justice and voting messages a trend at Emmys
A big Emmys trend this year? Social justice messages and celebrities voicing the importance of voting in the November election. While accepting the award for best lead actress in a limited series or movie (for "Watchmen"), Regina King wore a T-shirt with Breonna Taylor's face on it and the words "Say Her Name" under a pink blazer, while Uzo Aduba wore a T-shirt that read simply "Breonna Taylor" when she won the prize for best supporting actress in a limited series or TV movie (for "Mrs. America"). (Breonna was shot and killed by police while inside her Kentucky apartment in March). Regina also spoke about voting up and down the ballot at the upcoming election. During one of Daniel Levy's three acceptance speeches, he urged viewers to vote while apologizing for making things "political." Yvonne Orji from "Insecure," meanwhile, had a raised fist — a universal symbol of solidarity and support — shaved into her hair. Presenter Sterling K. Brown wore a "Black Lives Matter" shirt with a raised fist on it. Mark Ruffalo, while accepting his award for best lead actor in a limited series or movie, made a passionate plea to "vote for love, compassion and kindness." Political chatter has become quite common at awards shows of late, and the Emmys were no different.
When a person in a hazmat suit takes the Emmy away
Only in the time of the coronavirus! A person in a hazmat suit was standing outside Ramy Youssef's house with an Emmy in hand. All that was left was for Ramy to win. But he didn't — he lost to Eugene Levy for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series. Still, the "Ramy" star had some fun with his defeat as he posted a video of the trophy presenter waving goodbye and taking the Emmy away. "When you lose the emmy," he captioned the video on Twitter.
A new take on Emmys fashion
One of the biggest questions going into the Primetime Emmys was centered on the fashion (hello, it IS the Emmys, after all). But, being that they are virtual this year, would people actually dress up? Ahead of the show, fashion designer Christian Siriano predicted there will be a mix of glam and, shall we say, convenience. "I think it's a mix of classy, fabulous pajamas, or elevated suits that are comfortable. Maybe a few slippers," Christian told E! News. "I think actors and actresses right now, they want to be themselves, and a little more who they are. I think that's really nice to see." Prior to the show, host Jimmy Kimmel and show producers sent out a memo about the dress code that stated, "Come as you are, but make an effort." Tracee Ellis Ross dazzled in a metallic Alexandre Vauthier gown while Mark Duplass wore an old tux jacket atop what he called "Target's limited Clark Griswold Christmas Jammies collection." Big winner Zendaya wore multiple looks. Meanwhile, Samira Wiley promised that it won't be business up top, party on the bottom. "Honestly, because it's the Emmys, I don't want any mistakes so I'm probably gonna put on some pants," she told People magazine.
Eddie wins his first Emmy!
While most of the Emmys are being handed out on Sunday night, a few people have already been awarded. On Sept. 19, it was announced that Eddie Murphy won for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series — his first ever Emmy. Eddie's honor stems from his "Saturday Night Live" hosting role, which occurred 40 years after his first appearance on the sketch-comedy show. "This is a very, very special thing for me, to come back and have the show turn out the way it did. I'm still floating from it," he said in his acceptance speech that the Television Academy posted on Twitter.
The Emmys' "Moonlight" moment — plus a father-daughter first
Stop the presses! We had a "Moonlight" moment at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sept. 19. In declaring the winner of the outstanding guest actor in a drama series category, a voiceover announced Jason Bateman's name for his guest performance on the horror-crime drama miniseries "The Outsider." However, Ron Cephas Jones' name was actually on the card: He won for his performance in "This Is Us" (for the second time, by the way). A spokesperson for the Emmys blamed the snafu on an "editing issue" and declared that Ron won. The moment brought back memories of the 2017 Oscars during which "Moonlight" won but "La La Land" was erroneously announced as the winner. With Ron's win, he and Jasmine Cephas Jones became the first-ever father-daughter pair to win Emmys in the same year (she won for outstanding actress in a short form comedy or drama series for her work on Quibi's #FreeRayshawn).
While millions will tune into the Emmys, John Leguizamo will not be one of them. The actor, an Emmy winner in 1999 and four-time nominee, said he's boycotting the show due to a lack of Latinx representation. "If you don't have Latin people, there's no reason for me to see it. What's the point?" he said in an interview with Yahoo. "It's unbelievable that our stories aren't being told and there's one reason for that. Executives don't see us, don't get us [and] don't care about us." In the major award categories, only one person of Latinx or Hispanic heritage is nominated (Alexis Bledel is up for outstanding guest actress in a drama series for her work on "The Handmaid's Tale.") "We're less than 1% of the stories being told by Hollywood streamers and networks, that's cultural apartheid," John said.
RuPaul sets Emmys record
RuPaul is a record setter thanks to "RuPaul's Drag Race." The LGBTQ icon won his fifth consecutive Emmy for outstanding host for a reality or competition program, an award handed out at Saturday night's Creative Arts Emmys on Sept. 19. He now has the most wins in the category's 13-year history (RuPaul had been tied with "Survivor" host Jeff Probst). "I've always said, every time I bat my false eyelashes, I'm making a political statement. Well, tonight, the only political statement I want to make is this: Love," RuPaul said.
Norman Lear breaks his own record
At the virtual 2020 Creative Arts Emmys earlier in the week, Norman Lear broke his own record to again become the oldest Emmy winner in history when he won for outstanding variety special (live) for "Live In Front of a Studio Audience: 'All in the Family' And 'Good Times.'" The 98-year-old television creator, writer and producer won the same award last year.
Doing some real good too
The Emmys weren't just about awards and Hollywood patting its own back. The show did some real good. Not only did the Television Academy pledge to donate $500,000 to No Kid Hungry, which helps feed children in America, but host Jimmy Kimmel revealed that each network and streaming service competing on the telecast had pledged a $100,000 donation for every Emmy they won. Viewers were encouraged to pledge money as well. At the end of the show, Jimmy announced that $2.8 million had been raised for the nonprofit organization that's been a lifesaver for many especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Amy Schumer loses but posts sweet acceptance speech anyway
Let's make this clear: Amy Schumer did not win an Emmy for her Food Network show "Amy Schumer Learns to Cook," but that didn't stop her from recording an acceptance speech. The comedian posted a video to Instagram of what would have been her acceptance speech had she taken home the prize for outstanding unstructured reality program (the win went to Netflix's "Cheer"). While sitting at her kitchen table for her non-victorious speech, Amy was joined by her husband Chris, their 16-month-old son, Gene, and their nanny, Jane. "Emmy loss," the comedian captioned the video. "The vid we made in case we won. We lost to Cheer! I loved cheer!"
Jimmy's pants-less charity pre-game
We knew that fashion would be interesting at this year's Emmys, but who knew the Emmys were a no-pants party! The night before the Emmys, host Jimmy Kimmel had a little fun while promoting his "Emmy Party Box" with Ketel One Family Made Vodka. How much fun did he have? Well, he took off his pants. Jimmy's "Party Box" included dishes from some of his favorite chefs and restaurants. The "Emmys Party Box" was delivered to first responders in the Los Angeles area as a thank you for all of their hard work over the last several months. Hopefully the first responders keep their pants on while using their boxes.