Emmys producers Jesse Collins, Dionne Harmon and Jeannae Rouzan-Clay had reason to be upbeat the morning after the kudocast: In what seems to be a rarity for awards shows these days, their production earned almost universally high marks from critics and viewers. For the 75th annual celebration, the Jesse Collins Entertainment trio leaned into nostalgia and the history of television to create a three-hour event that paid tribute to the small screen.
“It was ambitious, and we were like, ‘Is this actually going to work?’ But we felt good about it in the end,” Collins told Variety on Tuesday morning. Except for one thing: The 75th Emmys on Fox faced an NFL wild card game, as well as news coverage of the Iowa caucuses. Throw in awards show fatigue (coming right after the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards) and confusion over the delayed Emmys (pushed four months from their original September 2023 date due to the Hollywood strikes), and it’s no surprise that the producers said they were “dreading” the ratings. And indeed, this year’s Emmys averaged just 4.3 million viewers — a new low for the ceremony. Still, for those who did watch, it was an Emmys to remember: Perhaps the most entertaining, most inclusive and most historic in recent memory.
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On the latest edition of Variety’s award-winning Awards Circuit Podcast, it’s a Mega Roundtable edition as the team recaps the big winners of the 75th Emmys, including “Succession,” “The Bear” and “Beef.” We also rave about the telecast itself and more. Listen below!
Reunited and It Feels So Good: For possibly the first time ever, the Emmy Awards presenters and bits were better than the actual awards and acceptance speeches, thanks to the Television Academy leaning heavily into the reunions, allowing a celebration of all the incredible TV over the last 75 years. Not only did famed co-stars reunite, but the producers rebuilt some of the most famous sitcom sets of all time and seamlessly transitioned between honoring a bygone show and presenting the next award. (Throughout the night, the late Norman Lear was honored numerous times, most memorably by Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers, who stepped back into the “All in the Family” living room to remember the iconic writer-director.)
The Emmys were able to maneuver between classic hit and current phenomenon. Instead of taking time to make jabs at actors in the room, host Anthony Anderson celebrated them. Even during commercial breaks, well-loved theme songs played, and there wasn’t a frown in sight when Ted Danson stepped behind the bar alongside Rhea Perlman, Kelsey Grammer, John Ratzenberger and George Wendt for a “Cheers” moment. Despite years of drama among the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy,” former and current stars Chandra Wilson, Justin Chambers, Ellen Pompeo, Katherine Heigl and James Pickens came together, hand in hand, onstage to honor what has become the longest-running medical drama on the air. And that’s what the Emmys are meant to do: celebrate the best.
#EmmysSoInclusive: Television Academy voters made plenty of history with their 75th Emmy picks — showcasing just how far the org has come from the not-so-distant past, when actors of color were shut out of the show’s top prizes.
Monday’s ceremony kicked off with “The Bear” star Ayo Edebiri winning the supporting comedy actress Emmy, marking the second year in a row (but just third overall) that the category was awarded to a Black woman, following last year’s win by Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”). That was followed on the telecast by Ralph’s “Abbott” co-star (and series creator) Quinta Brunson, who became just the second Black woman to win for outstanding comedy actress.
Later, Niecy Nash-Betts won her first Emmy, for supporting actress (limited) for “Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” and took a moment to pay tribute to “every Black and brown woman who has gone unheard.” And Ali Wong became the first Asian woman to win lead actress in a limited/anthology series or movie for “Beef,” with Steven Yeun also winning lead actor — while creator Lee Sung Jin scored three statues, for outstanding limited series, directing and writing. And in a historic moment for the LGBTQ community, GLAAD was awarded the TV Academy’s Governors Award, while “RuPaul’s Drag Race” extended its dominance in the reality competition field.
Repeat Offenders: Following the lead of the month’s Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, three shows once again dominated: HBO’s “Succession,” Netflix’s “Beef” and FX’s “The Bear.” With all winning best series in their respective genres, these shows also dominated the acting, writing and directing categories. As exciting as the ceremony was, this meant there were very few surprises throughout. “The
Bear” and “Beef” came out on top overall, with more wins than any other program; HBO remained the top-awarded network, thanks to “Succession” and “The Last of Us,” the latter of which cleaned up at the Creative Arts ceremony.
In comedy, “The Bear” didn’t have a lead actress in the race — Edebiri entered as supporting for Season 1 — leaving the door open for a very deserved Emmy for “Abbott Elementary’s” Brunson.
With a powerful final season for “Succession,”it wasn’t a surprise that Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook and Matthew Macfadyen took home acting trophies. The show did lose in the supporting actress category: J. Smith-Cameron was beaten by Jennifer Coolidge (who previously won in the limited category but moved to drama for Season 2 of “The White Lotus”).
For “Beef,” in addition to limited series, actor, actress, writing and directing, the show’s eight wins included three during the Creative Arts Emmys. In the limited/anthology supporting categories, however, there was room for other shows: Besides Nash-Betts’ supporting actress moment on stage, Paul Walter Hauser had another of the more memorable speeches of the night via a rap he performed while accepting the supporting actor trophy for his role in Apple TV+’s “Black Bird.”
EGOT Man: Could Elton John feel the love on Monday night? According to husband David Furnish, he sure did — even across the pond. “Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium,” the superstar’s Disney+ special from November 2022, won the Emmy for outstanding variety special. This means John has completed the sweep of every major awards show via two Oscars, six Grammys, a Tony and now this, making him part of an exclusive club that includes Whoopi Goldberg and John Legend.
Clutching the Emmy, executive producer Furnish told Variety that John was recuperating in London following knee surgery. “He had his left knee replaced,” Furnish said. “It’s not surprising when you think of the number of pianos he’s jumped off on platform heels!” When the producers woke the rocker to give him the good news via FaceTime, he said he felt “incredibly honored and lucky to be in such talented and esteemed company.”
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