Newsletter: A surreal pandemic awards show

The nominees for an Emmy category are shown onscreen during Sunday's awards ceremony.
The nominees for an Emmy category are shown onscreen during Sunday’s awards ceremony.

A strange night at the Emmy Awards. Plus, the biggest headlines from across California.

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Sept. 21, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:

On Tuesday, the Lakers will play Game 3 against the Denver Nuggets in their NBA Western Conference playoff series. The Lakers, up 2-0, will also play Thursday, and Saturday if needed.

Tuesday is also the fall equinox and National Voter Registration Day. (Check your California voter registration status here!)


On Wednesday, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert; and the heads of other health agencies will be back on Capitol Hill for a Senate hearing on the federal coronavirus response.

Saturday marks the final day of regular season Major League Baseball games, with two California matchups. The Dodgers will face off against the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim), and the San Diego Padres will play the San Francisco Giants.

Yom Kippur, my favorite holiday, begins Sunday night.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

“Why are we having an awards show in the middle of a pandemic?” That question was part of Jimmy Kimmel’s opening Emmys monologue, as he hosted TV’s biggest night from inside an empty Staples Center. It was the first of the major industry awards shows to contend with the complicated logistics of a remotely produced live broadcast, and it made for a deeply surreal few hours of television. Trophies were presented by people wearing tuxedo hazmat suits (imagine hearing that phrase in 2019!), and winners beamed in from home, hotel suites or small, distanced gatherings in unnamed locations. And as for the actual awards? “Schitt’s Creek” set Emmy records, while “Watchmen” and “Succession” helped lead HBO to a dominant night. Los Angeles Times

[See the complete list of winners from Sunday’s Emmys]

The Bobcat fire has exploded to more than 100,000 acres, making it one of L.A. County’s largest blazes ever. The fire burned homes in the Antelope Valley and has been spreading in multiple directions. Los Angeles Times

Roland Pagan surveys the remains of his home that was burned to the ground by the Bobcat fire.
Roland Pagan on Saturday surveys the remains of his home that was burned to the ground by the Bobcat fire in Juniper Hills, Calif.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

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L.A. schools are closed — but there are loopholes for those with money. Many schools have reopened anyway, either by outsourcing their facilities to established providers such as the YMCA, or by rebranding as day camps, which are license-exempt and virtually unregulated in California. Los Angeles Times

So long, and thanks for all the steak: Food columnist Lucas Peterson mourns the loss of the nearly century-old Pacific Dining Car in Westlake. Los Angeles Times

A “tsunami” of hotel closures is coming, experts warn. The Luxe Rodeo Drive is the first high-end hotel in the Los Angeles area to go out of business because of the pandemic, and industry experts point to an unusually high loan delinquency rate among hotel borrowers as a sign that more closures are likely to follow. Los Angeles Times

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President Trump could name his Supreme Court pick in days — and he says it will be a woman. Los Angeles Times

A majority of Americans, including many Republicans, want the winner of the November election to choose Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Sunday. Reuters

[See also: “Q&A: What happens now with the Supreme Court?” in the Los Angeles Times]

California’s troubled unemployment agency needs an immediate overhaul: The state’s antiquated unemployment benefits system requires a complete overhaul to overcome significant problems that have delayed getting money to many left jobless during the COVID-19 pandemic, a strike team appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday. Los Angeles Times


The Trump administration’s effort to ban the Chinese messaging app WeChat is on hold after a U.S. District Court judge granted a preliminary injunction Saturday. Los Angeles Times

All over San Francisco, people are finding their homes and businesses broken into — burglaries are up more than 40% this year, as tourists and their cars stay away. San Francisco Chronicle


Coronavirus deaths in California topped 15,000 on Sunday, as the U.S. death toll approached 200,000. The U.S. has recorded far more coronavirus deaths than any other country in the world. Los Angeles Times

A woman bitten by a coyote on a remote Marin County beach had to walk nearly two miles back to her car. She then drove to a hospital, where was treated for minor injuries. Marin Independent Journal


California job growth is sluggish — and experts say it may get worse: California’s job market improved slightly in August, but the state has regained just a third of the jobs it lost since the COVID-19 pandemic forced thousands of businesses to close. Los Angeles Times

Roberto, the three-foot snake, lives: After his owners evacuated, a pet python was found safe in a Northern California home during the North Complex fire. Redding Record-Searchlight

The Desert Sun says goodbye to its Palm Springs printing operations. After more than three decades of operations from the paper’s headquarters in Palm Springs, it will soon be printed in Phoenix. Desert Sun

What classes are like at the first Kern County public school to reopen. “General Shafter is a small district — just one school with 179 students — but it’s an expansive one whose boundaries stretch along Highway 99 from Houghton Road to the Grapevine.” Bakersfield Californian

“The future is feeling hopeful.” This Fresno man fought fires while incarcerated. Now a new law will open up career paths for him. Fresno Bee

A poem to start your week: “First Fall” by Maggie Smith. Poetry Foundation

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Los Angeles: sunny, 82. San Diego: partly sunny, 75. San Francisco: partly sunny, 71. San Jose: partly sunny, 80. Fresno: sunny, 93. Sacramento: sunny, 89. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda (Sept. 22, 1927), Rep. Doris Matsui (Sept. 25, 1944), actor Will Smith (Sept. 25, 1968), Lakers President Jeanie Buss (Sept. 26, 1961), tennis star Serena Williams (Sept. 26, 1981) and actress-entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow (Sept. 27, 1972).

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.