There can be no question that Emmy season is upon us and going into high gear, at least judging by the near-daily barrage of invitations to For Your Consideration events. I don’t know if there is a clearing house for these things, but if you are an ATAS member (as I am), you could spend every night of the week darting from studio to studio and venue to venue to see TV casts and creatives sell their wares to voters. It usually consists of some sort of episode screening, a Q&A panel and a reception. If you don’t have a reception, it’s harder to fill every seat. Academy voters love to eat and drink and mingle. Cast members and producers usually hang out in the lobby afterward taking selfies with potential voters. These events have become so prevalent — Deadline also has its own series of screenings and Q&As — that it’s almost a requirement to do them now. It’s trickier than during Oscar season since it is easier in many cases to get voters to see new movies than to come to screenings of TV episodes they might already have seen or need Cliffs Notes to understand what’s going on if they aren’t clued into the series’ storyline.
Already this season these events have included evenings with Better Call Saul, Black-ish, Parenthood, Justified, Derek, Conan In Cuba and The Walking Dead, to name a few. But this week it really has started to get crowded. Sunday night I moderated a packed event at Pacific Design Center for BET’s first miniseries The Book Of Negroes. BET showed Epidsode 4 of the six-hour series along with a sizzle reel covering the first three episodes. Onstage were several actors, the director, executive producer and Lawrence Hill, the author of the book the show is based on. At the post-show reception, he sat at a table and signed copies.
Tonight at Warner Bros ATAS members can see the Season 2 finale of Mom, folllowed by a Q&A. Friday there’s Scandal at the DGA. Saturday is WGN America’s Manhattan at AMPAS’ Linwood Dunn Theatre. Sunday is Silicon Valley night at the WGA Theatre. The next night is Netflix’s Bloodline back at Pacific Design Center. On May 5th Showtime and Sony present Masters Of Sex for ATAS members. May 6 it is Showtime’s The Affair at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. On May 8, it will be ABC’s American Crime night on the Disney lot. Lifetime’s The Secret Life Of Marilyn Monroe gets a big event on May 11at Downtown’s ACE Hotel, the same venue where Film Independent and AMC will have a novel evening on May 17 with one of Jason Reitman’s Live Script Readings; they usually are reserved for major motion pictures, but this time it’s dedicated to the Season 1 finale of Mad Men, on the very same evening the series finale airs. Later in May Fox’s Empire will have another event after first doing one at the Ace Hotel for its finale.
Organizers have had to scramble for venues for the first time this season since the Television Academy’s Goldenson Theatre has been torn down and won’t be up and running again until sometime in 2016 if all goes according to plan. Emmy campaigners loved to use that theater because it gave the air of being something sponsored by ATAS itself and had giant Emmy statues on either side of the stage. Contenders looked good in that setting. But ATAS has nothing to do with any of the aforementioned For Your Consideration evenings and makes a major effort to separate itself from them. In fact, the Academy requires each invitation to list on both front and back that “This event is presented and hosted by (studio, network name), not by the Television Academy.” The only officially sanctioned event for an Emmy contender that I can find on the Academy’s schedule is ATAS’ Farewell To Mad Men, featuring cast and crew of the AMC show, also being held May 17, the afternoon of the series finale. Even they had to find an alternative venue now, and it will be at the Montalban Theatre in Hollywood.
That other Academy, the Motion Picture Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater, is getting rental action this season from some of the more deep-pocketed studios, since it can be a little pricey. For instance, Netflix used the near-1,000-seat venue Monday night for a House Of Cards screening, Q&A and reception with stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright among others. That was a hot ticket — too hot, apparently, for one Emmy voter named Peggy Lane O’Rourke; seated in the second row, her view of the panel was completely blocked, she said, by “WAY over zealous” security personnel until after several minutes when she said it took Spacey himself to tell them to move out of the way.
She also was miffed that they were told no photos could be taken of the Q&A. She took to Facebook and other media to say that while the episode shown was arguably the best she’s seen in the series’ history, her experience (along with other Academy members, she claimed) at this event has soured her. Although after sitting through what she estimates have been 100 to 200 of these events, she has what appears to be a sense of entitlement — and that can backfire on campaigners if voters don’t believe proper attention is being paid. She wrote on Facebook: “We are the VERY people whose vote you are looking for. Treating us like crap doesn’t help that, in fact it has the opposite effect. … Why would I vote for a show that wouldn’t even allow me to see the panel? I have to tell you Netflix…..Mad Men is looking pretty good. Fellow Academy members – feel free to share this. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.” Ouch. The long and detailed post went on and on.
And you thought Oscar campaigning was tough! Welcome to Emmy season, folks.