The Television Academy sent out notices over the weekend via snail mail and today via online to the approximately 18,500 eligible voting members that “Your VOTE Counts,” and the process of choosing nominees in the 113 or so categories for this year’s Emmy contest is underway. Polls will close on June 27th with nominations announced on July 14. Clearly by sending out the rare missive via post office, since all voting is now exclusively online, is to underscore to all members that Emmy 2016 is ON.
The Academy also wants to make sure username, password, email address and mobile telephone number are all updated, locked and loaded for the fun to begin. Even as voting starts today the campaign continues in high gear. As I noted last week, Netflix alone had sent out 14 pounds of programming in several boxes for members. When I ran into Netflix honcho Ted Sarandos at last Thursday’s AFI Life Achievement Award to John Williams, he corrected me saying he was told it was 22 pounds. So in an effort at factual correctness I weighed them all today and came up with 20 pounds of screeners. “I know it is a lot but we have a lot of stuff. Right now we haven’t come up with another way and want to make sure we are competitive,” he told me while emphasizing the programming is also available at all times on Netflix anytime and the streamer has provided all members with a card and personal code guaranteeing them free access through the end of the month.
The streamers like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have really ramped up the push for Emmys taking innovative strides to set them apart from the broadcast and cable networks. Netflix is trying all sorts of stunts, including offering valet parking validation tickets with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt plastered on them at various high end restaurants, hotels and events like Deadline’s Emmy Party last week at the Hollywood Roosevelt, and the Beverly Hills Food & Wine Festival. If you go to your dry cleaners during the voting period, you are likely to have your shirts returned in custom Narcos laundry bags that say “We Love Laundering.” The DEA dogs from the series have also been turning up for photo opps at events as well as including the aforementioned Deadline Emmy party.
Netflix has even given over some of their billboard space in a longshot bid to get, not Aziz but his father, Shoukath Ansari, a guest star Emmy nom for his bit in one of the episodes. Several spots also ran on last night’s CBS Tony Awards broadcast, with Kimmy Schmidt character Titus Andromedon (comedy supporting hopeful Titus Burgess) auditioning to play Alexander Hamilton in the Broadway smash (“even though I can’t get tickets and no one has offered them”). If you go to Orange Theory workout locations you will be getting free Orange Is The New Black towels. President Obama has even inadvertently helped out this campaign by adamantly proclaiming that “Orange” (meaning Donald Trump) is definitely NOT “The New Black” (meaning, well, you get the idea).
And bringing another of their shows directly into this Presidential campaign, Netflix has sent out “ambassadors” to campaign recently in the June 7 primary for their House Of Cards prez Frank Underwood with the slogan “FU2016.” Not to be outdone though is Hulu, which had perhaps the most unusual FYC event of all on June 7 primary day, when they took insult comic dog Triumph out to the Silverlake Dog Park for the unveiling of his own campaign headquarters in order to promote Triumph The Insult Dog’s Election Special for the Variety Special categories. And streamer Amazon, which picked up a couple of Emmys last year for Transparent is doubling down this year with some innovative ideas to keep voters captive while sampling their contenders.
In May they partnered with UBER to offer free rides in premium vehicles to Emmy voters who, while traveling to their destinations, were encouraged to watch eligible Amazon series via Kindles wrapped with Transparent, Man In The High Castle, Mozart In The Jungle, and Catastrophe branding. Content was downloaded to the Amazon video app. Uber sent a blast to 300,000 unique users in LA and offered Amazon branded water bottles for the ride along with “Consider Amazon” gift boxes. Amazon also has an Olive & Thyme Burbank restaurant promotion targeting key Valley studio voters, and last week, prior to the start of voting, sent around a vintage Airstream trailer with FYC messaging parked in front of studios, with teams handing out Kindles to watch programming and food to eat while doing so.
Beyond the streamers, campaigns are in full force from a record number of programmers doing a record number of For Your Consideration events. In fact I have counted at least 55 since CBS Studios did a live performance and panel for the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on March 24, less than a month after the Oscar season ended. It appears that there has not been a single night without one of these FYC events (they are not sanctioned by the Academy, but still facilitated as they mail or email the invites for a price). Despite tonight’s cancellation of FX’s American Horror Story FYC event due to the Orlando shooting tragedy, these live events are still at full speed with a big one coming Wednesday on the Paramount lot with a Grease Live! panel (including stars and Tony winning Hamilton director Thomas Kail among others) and Grease Live! Carnival. TV live musical rival The Wiz did an FYC earlier this month that featured in person musical performances from the cast.
On the same night on the East Coast, Comedy Central will be trotting out The Daily Show host Trevor Noah to meet and greet NYC Emmy voters at the Paley Center. Game Of Thrones will be presenting its penultimate episode for Emmy voters on Father’s Day at the ACE downtown. Tomorrow Spike TV is promoting its Lip Sync Battle at the new Television Academy Wolf Theatre. NBC’s Shades Of Blue FYC panel with Jennifer Lopez, Ray Liotta and cast and creatives was the first of these events to inaugurate the new theatre last Thursday. Some shows opt for a different vibe to attract voters. On Friday night ABC took over Hollywood and Highland’s Dave And Busters for food, games and talk with the cast of Black-ish inviting not just members but their entire families, in the spirit of the family sitcom.
The long list of shows springing the big bucks to produce these events includes past winners and nominees like Modern Family, Fargo, Homeland, Empire, Silicon Valley, Veep, American Crime, Better Call Saul and Transparent to longer shots like Odd Mom Out, Born This Way, You’re The Worst and Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives with Guy Fieri – the latter kind of show always a draw at these things since the receptions are aimed at real foodies and translate to long lines in the lobby, if not to actual votes. Not to be left out are Late Late Show With James Corden, UnReal, Power, Mozart In The Jungle, Catastrophe, Fargo, Billions, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Narcos, Man In The High Castle, Fresh Off The Boat, Billy On The Street, Mr. Robot, The Leftovers, Casual, The Path, Difficult People, Jim Gaffigan, Masters Of Sex, Documentary Now, Ray Donovan, Younger, The Affair, Underground (WGN America threw a rousing Gospel Brunch for voters in April) , Blunt Talk, Jane The Virgin, The Mindy Project and You Me Her. TBS decided to save on money by creating an evening with all their comedy shows from Conan to The Detour to Samantha Bee and did it on both coasts. Prestige shows like FX’s The People Vs. O.J. Simpson, Starz’s The Dresser and AMC’s John LeCarre adaptation The Night Manager brought out a stage full of participants to packed houses. Downton Abbey hosted a tea for its final season’s FYC.
Beginning today it is all in the voter’s hands. Will all this campaigning make a difference, or will it be the same old-same old when the nominees are revealed on the morning of July 14? Time will tell.