Emmy voters’ couches are about to get a workout: Coronavirus halts in-person FYC events

Oprah Winfrey, left, and Ava DuVernay chat at an Emmy event for DuVernay’s 2019 Netflix limited series, “When They See Us.”
(Emma McIntyre / Getty Images)

The Television Academy announced Thursday that this Emmy season‘s “For Your Consideration” events will be entirely livestreamed or prerecorded, the latest gatherings to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It will be a different Emmy season,” TV Academy President and COO Maury McIntyre said in a phone interview. “The FYC campaign season is a pretty big deal for television, so we were trying to find a way to allow productions that want to do those kinds of things to still get them to the members.”

The FYC events, held at the academy’s 595-seat Wolf Theatre in its North Hollywood headquarters as well as theaters in New York and the Los Angeles area, are a way for networks and streaming platforms to engage Emmy voters, reminding them to consider their shows — or simply to remember they exist. Typically, the events feature a panel with the show’s cast and creators, along with a buffet afterward.

Streamers like Netflix and Amazon have upped the ante in recent years, spending lavishly to create their own Emmy spaces for exhibits, events and parties. Those pop-ups are likely out now too this season, though no official announcement has been made.


This year’s livestream events will be made available for viewing via networks’ own Emmy sites, social platforms and the Television Academy’s hosted events page, depending on what the partner wants to do, McIntyre said. The specifics are still evolving, he added, noting that the biggest question remains actors’ willingness to participate given the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus.

“We have to respect if talent feels uncomfortable just being in a room with other talent,” McIntyre said. “That’s what it’s going to come down to, and whatever they decide, we’ll honor and respect that.”

The academy also remains open to changing its stance if health officials give the OK.

“If by some miracle the virus has stopped its spread in the next month or so, we will revisit and see if there’s a way to do a more truncated events season if the industry is interested in that,” McIntyre said. “Right now, though, none of us knows what’s going on and we felt we had to do our part to prevent the spread of the disease. It’s just not worth the risk.”


Netflix had already canceled its first event of the season, for “Lost in Space,” while Lifetime called off its early panels, including “Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning,” “The Clark Sisters” and “Patsy & Loretta.”

HBO managed to sneak in events for “Westworld” and its upcoming limited series “The Plot Against America” last Friday.

Today’s announcement follows an earlier academy edict that banned autographs, selfies and other audience interactions with event panelists. McIntyre said that call, made six days ago, was the “least problematic decision we made.”

Today’s announcement has large reverberations and small ones too. Some Television Academy members brag that from March to June, they never have to dine at home.


That will change this year.

“I was telling our [chief marketing officer] that we need to have a partnership with Domino’s,” McIntyre said. “Sit down, watch the livestreams and order your Domino’s.”