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2020 Emmy Awards still set for September despite coronavirus

The Television Academy is adjusting the eligibility and voting deadlines for this year’s Primetime Emmy calendar in response to concerns made by TV communication executives and awards strategists in the current coronavirus climate.

The dates for the Creative Emmy Awards and Primetime Emmy shows remain unchanged respectively on Sept. 12 to 13 and Sept. 20, and will only be moved should state and national safety directives deem them to be, should the coronavirus worsen.

This morning’s big changes involve the entry deadline moving close to four weeks from May 11 to June 5, and the Phase one voting period jumping from June 15 to 29 to July 2 to 13 with the new nominations announcement date being July 28 instead of July 14. The Phase one period thus shrinks from 15 days to 12 days.

Phase 2 voting, which was originally set for Aug. 17 to 31, will start slightly later, and shave off four days, now occurring between Aug. 21 to 31.

Also being extended is the eligibility date for hanging episodes for regular series and limited series, as the TV Academy takes into account production and programming delays. Now, all hanging episodes must broadcast or post on an accessible platform by June 30, instead of May 31. Both regular and limited series must still premiere by the end of this year’s eligibility date which remains May 31. A minimum of six episodes continues to be required for a show to be qualified in the series category. A limited series in its entirety must air or post on a platform before June 30, and if it doesn’t, then the limited series will qualify in the 2020-2021 Emmy year.

Meanwhile, all TV Academy FYC events “whether with a live audience, streaming or recorded for posting on a viewing platform” per the org remain suspended for the current Emmy season.

In recent weeks, the TV Academy appeared to be standing firm on their original voting and eligibility dates. However, TV publicists and Emmy campaign strategists reportedly voiced their reservations about promoting too heavily and too soon, thus wanting to exercise a greater degree of sensitivity in a spring that’s been rocked by COVID-19: Many productions have shut down, leaving many out of work, and the whole atmosphere across the nation is rather dour as we all self-quarantine. Emmy season has traditionally been decked with glam marketing, billboards, food trucks, stunt events, big DVD boxes and soirées. Earlier this year, to tame some of that, the TV Academy banned DVD mailers to voters, and in doing so, favored online screeners. The hope here with the TV Academy’s tweaking of the FYC calendar is that we’ll be on the other side of the curve in regards to the coronavirus, and in a lighter-spirited environment. Between the entertainment capitals, New York City currently counts 23K COVID-19 cases (and 365 deaths as of yesterday) while Los Angeles counts 1,2K cases (and 21 deaths) according to reports.

Still, this Emmy season has forced a lot of campaigners to continually re-think their plans. Screenings, Q&As, and pop-up hubs like those previously hosted by Amazon and Netflix are expected to be near-extinct in addition to a broad billboard presence of shows with few cars on the road. According to sources, the expectation is that networks and streamers will relegate their Emmy campaigning to digital, TV, and radio.

And the lengthening of the hangover episode deadlines? Will that new grace period now benefit FX’s season 4 of limited series “Fargo,” HBO’s “Undoing” or other shows? That’s hard to predict at this point in time as we don’t know how fast the current COVID-19 climate will quell, and how feasibly episodic production will resume. “Fargo” has two more episodes to shoot out of its ten order, with FX already pushing the premiere of the multi-Emmy winning limited series from April 19 to later this year. Yesterday, HBO released the following statement “In light of current events, HBO’s six-part limited series ‘The Undoing,’ will now debut this fall” instead of May 10. Meanwhile, National Geographic’s “Genius: Aretha” halted production, with its May 25 premiere date in limbo.

In regards to the Creative Emmys and Primetime ceremonies, the TV Academy also mentioned today that together with ABC, they’ll be monitoring the recommendations from the CDC and the L.A. County Department of Health when it comes to the coronavirus and whether they should delay both shows or not.