Families of Lynn Shelton and Fred Willard moved by posthumous Emmy nominations

Late filmmaker Lynn Shelton poses for a portrait. Shelton died unexpectedly in May.
Late filmmaker Lynn Shelton was nominated for an Emmy Award Tuesday.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

When the 72nd Emmy Awards nominations were announced Tuesday morning, director Lynn Shelton and actor Fred Willard were posthumously recognized for their work.

Shelton — a triple threat behind the camera as a writer, director and producer for TV and film — died of a blood disorder in May. On Tuesday, she was nominated for her last directing credit, the finale of Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere.”

Her parents, Wendy Roedell and David Shelton, were moved by the academy’s acknowledgment.

“That Lynn is honored by the Television Academy is not only a tribute to her accomplishments as a director but her style of directing,” they said in a statement. “Always in control but kind-hearted. Making the final decisions but always soliciting input from her co-workers. Co-workers, yes, that is how she regarded everyone on the set, from grips and gaffers and set and costume designers to the director of photography and the actors.

“This is an honor for the ultimate collaborationist who knew that she would produce her best if she teased the best out of her teammates.”

The nod, for directing for a limited series, movie or dramatic special, marked Shelton’s first Emmy nomination. Willard’s nomination was his fifth.

Willard was a pillar of satire comedy and, as Times TV critic Robert Lloyd put it, a “beloved American weirdo” and “colossus of eccentric normality.” Known for playing news director Ed Harken in “Anchorman,” Willard was nominated for guest actor in a comedy series for his role as Frank Dunphy, the father of Phil Dunphy, on “Modern Family.”

After the actor’s death in May, his daughter Hope Willard tweeted that he “kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end.”


On Tuesday, she reacted to news of his Emmy nomination by tweeting: “Couldn’t be happier!

The 2020 Emmy nominations had plenty of unexpected choices in store. And our awards columnist is here to break it all down.