Even amid a pandemic, there shall be Emmys.
On Tuesday morning at 11:30 E.T., the Television Academy will announce the nominees for the 72nd Emmy Awards. The envelopes are scheduled to be unsealed on Sept. 20 during a ceremony broadcast by ABC and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.
Even before Covid-19 shut down most productions, 2020 was going to be a year of change for television’s biggest awards show. Winners of multiple Emmys like “Game of Thrones, “Veep” and “Fleabag” are out of the competition, leaving a vacuum in the drama and comedy races, a rarity for a night that is usually filled with repeat champs.
Top contenders to rack up nominations in the drama category include HBO’s operatic family saga, “Succession,” Netflix’s more-popular-by-the-day crime series “Ozark” and Netflix’s lush period piece about Queen Elizabeth II, “The Crown.”
“The Handmaid’s Tale,” the Hulu show that won best drama in 2017, should also get a nomination, although some critics were cool to its third season, which premiered more than a year ago. And there is likely to be some recognition of the star-studded Apple TV+ series “The Morning Show.” A nod or two from Hollywood would mean a lot to the tech giant that has spent billions on its move into entertainment.
On the comedy side, Pop TV’s “Schitt’s Creek” has picked up momentum among awards forecasters, with many believing it will be showered with nominations for its final season, which ended in April. Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” the 2018 best comedy winner, is another strong contender. Other possible nominees include Netflix’s “Dead to Me” and HBO’s “Insecure.”
This time around there will be more nominations than ever. The Television Academy announced last month that the drama and comedy categories will expand to eight nominees each.
At a time when the number of television series has hit a high — there were more 500 last year — the number of Emmy submissions rose by 15 percent, the academy said.
Will Olivia Colman’s royal run continue?
Of all the acting categories, best actress in a drama promises to be packed with stars, Oscar winners and Emmy winners.
Olivia Colman’s turn as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown” is a lock for a nomination — and would make a nice to complement to the Golden Globe she won in January for the role and the Oscar she won in 2019 for her portrayal of Queen Anne in “The Favourite.”
The four-time Emmy winner Laura Linney, a star of “Ozark,” is another lock. And Jennifer Aniston, who plays an overwhelmed news anchor, and Reese Witherspoon, who portrays a straight-shooting reporter, could find themselves in the running for their work on “The Morning Show.”
Last year’s winner, Jodie Comer, a star of AMC’s “Killing Eve,” should be back, as well as the 2015 winner, Viola Davis, for a final turn in her role in ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder.”
And don’t count out Nicole Kidman for the second season of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” and the 2017 winner, Elisabeth Moss, for “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
‘Mrs. America’ duels ‘Watchmen.’
The limited series category has become the Emmy ceremony’s most intriguing, with its big stars and the tens of millions invested by cable networks and streaming companies into a single short season.
This year’s contest will likely be a showdown between two ambitious programs that tackled social issues: “Mrs. America,” the drama from FX and Hulu that chronicles the battle over the Equal Rights Amendment; and “Watchmen,” HBO’s innovative adaptation of a difficult-to-adapt superhero graphic novel.
Netflix’s “Unbelievable,” one of the streamer’s most popular original series in 2019, should get a nomination. And Hulu’s sex-positive “Normal People” could earn a nod, as well.
The best actress in a limited series race also looks to be a showdown between Cate Blanchett, who played Phyllis Schlafly in “Mrs. America,” and Regina King, the masked hero in “Watchmen.”
Merritt Wever could get a nomination for “Unbelievable,” and Witherspoon and Kerry Washington both have a chance for their roles in “Little Fires Everywhere.”
Will it be a remote ceremony, or what?
Here’s what we know for sure about the Emmys ceremony: ABC will put on the telecast, and its late night personality, Jimmy Kimmel, will return as the show’s host for a third time.
And that’s about it.
Will it be virtual? Will it be live? Will the winners deliver acceptance speeches via Zoom?
What even is an awards show ceremony in the middle of a pandemic?
The Television Academy has provided no information — but with ratings for live television events surging in recent months, a charmingly makeshift awards ceremony could be just the thing to reignite interest in the Emmys.
Last year, the broadcast hit a record low in the ratings, with an audience of 6.9 million.
An Emmy would complete Stephen Sondheim’s haul.
On Sunday, the composer Alan Menken attained so-called EGOT status — joining the rarefied group of people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony — after capturing a Daytime Emmy for his work on an original song for the Disney Channel show “Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure.”
Two more people have a shot at this distinction if they are nominated on Tuesday: Stephen Sondheim and the songwriter Benj Pasek.
The streaming concert tribute to Mr. Sondheim, “Take Me to the World,” was an online sensation during the early days of the pandemic-induced lockdown. Mr. Sondheim served as a producer, making him Emmy-eligible. Mr. Pasek, who is also an Emmy short of becoming an EGOT, has a chance at a nod from the Television Academy for another digital special, “Saturday Night Seder.”
Achieving EGOT status has become more visible in recent years, thanks to the scrutiny of social media and entertainment sites. Only 16 people have won the four major entertainment awards, including Mel Brooks, Whoopi Goldberg and Rita Moreno.