A column chronicling events and conversations on the awards circuit.
Just as the 10-day kickoff for final Emmy voting started in earnest at 9 a.m. Friday, an unprecedented two regular issues of Emmy magazine, the exclusive mag sent to all 23,000 voting members of the Television Academy, arrived in tandem. Both are chock-full of FYC ads which — including Deadline, as you can probably tell — still are everywhere in this COVID-fused Emmy season that officially started with a greenlight for FYC events back in January, even as Oscar season was still swirling around us.
By March, of course, everything had changed, and we entered into the first virtual awards season ever, and now we are in the final stretch. It is so final-stretchy in this truly weird year that all nominees for shows being presented at one of the five Creative Arts ceremony nights (not the primetime show on September 20) were required to meet Friday’s deadline for taping their victory speech — without knowing if they actually won — and have it sent to the show’s producers. And that was even before one vote had been cast! How many were comfortable in actually doing it remains to be seen, but in this age of the hacker, I am not sure if I were one of those nominees that I would feel good about it not getting loose on the internet.
Despite many “winners” already having recorded their speeches, I don’t know if I am like other Academy members or not, but I probably won’t get around to even casting a ballot in the 15 program and five writing categories for which I am eligible to vote until much closer to the next Monday’s 10 p.m. PT deadline. The sheer volume of nominees selected from a record 10,600 submissions — up 15% from 2019 — is daunting, not that anyone could be expected to watch them all. That means that in the end, all these ad blitzes could have some impact, and add in all those numerous video opportunities to hear from the nominees that still blanket the internet (including the highly successful Nominees second part of our Deadline Contenders Television live streamed events).
Still I am not sure why the Academy chose to flood members with two official Emmy magazines at once rather than offering them up once a month as is the norm. But it just goes to show that there are dollars to be had in abundance, and this Emmy season perhaps is cashing in more than even the still-emerging Oscar season promises to do.
HAS WILL FERRELL BECOME TV’S PRODUCING POWERHOUSE? EMMY SAY YES
Among the missives from the TV Acad last week was a press release revealing that, after final vetting of all producer credits, none other than Will Ferrell sits atop the list of multiple Emmy nominees this year with four — more than any other person achieved this year in producing categories alone. At four nominations overall, he is tied with Daniel Levy, who’s up for writing, directing and acting in addition to a producer nom all for Schitt’s Creek, and Kerry Washington, impressively nabbing three producing mentions (Live in Front of a Studio Audience, Little Fires Everywhere, American Son) in addition to a Lead Actress in a Limited Series/Movie nomination.
For Ferrell, though, it’s the second year in a row he has had four noms as a producer — pretty impressive — and he has not gone unnominated at the Emmys in at least one category since 2014. Even more interesting is that Ferrell, best known to most as an actor and comedian, has only been up once for his work in front of the camera; that was nearly two decades ago in 2001 when he was on Saturday Night Live. But out of 12 primetime nominations before this year, Ferrell has won only once in Outstanding Variety Special (Live) as a credited executive producer on Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and The Jeffersons, in which he also appeared in the latter episode. His quartet of noms in 2020 includes Live in Front of a Studio Audience again, as well as an EP on Dead to Me (Outstanding Comedy Series), Succession (Outstanding Drama Series) and Drunk History (Outstanding Variety Sketch Series) — all as a result of his now-dissolved producing partnership with Adam McKay. On top of all this, Ferrell was a Daytime Emmy nominee in June for Outstanding Special Class Writing for a Special for Funny or Die’s The 2019 Rose Parade with Cord and Tish.
Intriguingly, McKay is listed as having three Emmy nominations himself this season for those shows — he did not do the Live in Front of a Studio Audience’s follow-up — but goes unmentioned completely on the Academy’s updated press release of multiple nominees (perhaps because it didn’t need to vet his contributions). Listed with three noms each, now that vetting is completed, are Jason Bateman, Jimmy Kimmel, Issa Rae and RuPaul. Several others managed two nominations including such notables as Mahershala Ali, Christina Applegate, Cate Blanchett, Linda Cardellini, Michael Douglas, Eugene Levy (with half the total of his son), Sandra Oh, Wanda Sykes, Taika Waititi, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the late Lynn Shelton and a whole lotta of Shark Tank-ers.
Being “vetted” as a eligible producer would indicate these now-officially determined nominees made a considerable contribution to the shows for which they are nominated. So with Ferrell’s largely invisible Emmy strength, has he become a true TV powerhouse producer with the Midas touch, or someone who has hitched his name to the right wagons? On Emmy night we shall see what cards are dealt to this year’s most prolific producer, at least in name.
BRIAN COX ON START DATE FOR ‘SUCCESSION’ SEASON 3
Speaking of Ferrell, and perhaps his chances to keep his Emmy nomination streak going, at least as far as HBO’s juggernaut Succession is concerned, I went to the source and asked Logan Roy himself about when we might ever see a Season 3 of the series that landed 18 nominations this year. Like just about everything else, it has been stopped in its tracks because of the industry-wide shutdown of production, only now starting to pick up again. SPOILER ALERT: When last we saw them in the Season 2 finale, Kendall had just thrown dad Logan under the bus — or actually, in this case, under the boat. Will we ever know where that cliffhanger goes? What about Season 3, and have they got a start date yet?
“No, we haven’t started it,” Brian Cox said. “I have to say that HBO are being exceptional. We even have our own medical team now. We actually have a team who are doing great advice on the medical side, and you know, there have been so many variables, protocols that we’ve had to absorb. And that’s the process our great producer Scott Ferguson’s been involved in of these last months, including our wonderful first assistant Christo Morse, and Pat Capone as well.”
Cox is Emmy-nominated as the patriarch of the dysfunctional family at the center of the show. “I mean, everybody’s been involved, creating this dynamic, whereby we present and we do our show. And you know, we will do our show, and I think we will do it before the end of the year. I think there’s a possibility, but we’ll go when it’s right. We’ll go when it’s safe. We’ll go when everything’s in its place, and that’s what the crew have been doing, and are doing, even as we speak, and it’s really exciting that that’s happening, you know? It’s going to be a very interesting kind of thing that is going to affect us in a very extraordinary way, I’m sure.”
Co-star Jeremy Strong, Emmy-nominated opposite Cox in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category, told me he was worn down after all the trauma of Season 2 but is raring to go after this much longer hiatus continues. “You know, I think I feel excited for it, and I love and respect the people we work with, and I love and respect Brian, and that’s why I’m ready to go to war with him,” he laughed. To which Cox replied: “It’ll happen. It’ll happen.”
By the way, check out tonight’s Deadline Virtual House series all about Succession, where I will be talking to all nine — count ’em, nine — Emmy nominated actors from the show including Cox, Strong, the three Guest Acting nominees (Cherry Jones, James Cromwell, Dame Harriet Walter) and four Supporting Acting nominees (Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfayden, Nicholas Braun). They will be joining me virtually from around the world including London, Switzerland, Australia, New York, Vermont and points in between. Check it out at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Just click the link on the invites that have been sent out in the past week on the Deadline site.