The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is prepping for a return to normalcy in 2022, including a live, in-person Daytime Emmys at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. But that’s next year. For 2021, NATAS, CBS and producer Associated Television Intl. are putting together a pre-taped Daytime Emmys telecast that will still be a hybrid of studio segments, remote presentations and pre-submitted acceptance speeches.
“The Talk’s” Sheryl Underwood will serve as solo host of this year’s telecast, her fifth time emceeing the ceremony but the first on her own.
“She’s a great friend of daytime programming and a great friend of the Academy, so it just worked out,” says NATAS director Steve Ulrich. “In fact, if it’s not the record, then I think she’s certainly up there in terms of someone who has hosted our Daytime Emmys more than anyone else.”
Underwood will host the show from ATI’s studio facilities in Burbank, where one of the stages has been transformed into this year’s Daytime Emmys home base. ATI producer David Martin says the set is actually larger than the one that will be built next year in Pasadena.
“It’s a big set with a red carpet area for the celebrity names who are coming to present,” Martin says. “It’s the first step in getting back to normal. I think we’re getting there, and viewers will feel more like they’re watching an award show this year.”
Still, some presenters will be seen on the sets of their own shows or even at home. That’s because although the country is moving back to normalcy, it became apparent that travel would remain difficult for out-of-town talent, and some might not want to fly in to do a pre-tape that could be shot elsewhere.
“Daytime spans such a wide variety of genres, and while obviously Hollywood is the center of a lot of this, there’s a lot of the daytime production that occurs outside of L.A.,” Ulrich says. “So, when we have the opportunity to have a presenter who is a big part of daytime and a boldface name, then we’re using whatever technology is available to produce their presentation of an award. It’s a bit of a mix. Those who are in the Los Angeles area, we are encouraging them to do their bits at ATI’s studio.”
Producing the show at its own headquarters made it easy for ATI to handle security and COVID-19 protocols. “This way we can keep control of what’s going on, who’s coming in,” Martin says. “It ticks all the boxes.”
As with last year, every nominee was asked to send in their acceptance speech, but only the winners’ thank-yous will be shown. “Once we know who the winner is, then we use that, and we destroy everything else,” Martin says.
The June 25 CBS telecast will focus mostly on daytime dramas, game and talk shows, and other high-profile categories. NATAS opted not to hand out lifetime achievement awards again this year, to avoid robbing honorees of the normal pomp and circumstance that comes with a live audience.
Ulrich calls the 2021 Daytime Emmys a “transition year,” as it will have more of a big event feel, but he and Martin say they’re looking forward to next year’s return to a real ceremony. “It’ll be good to be back in the theater again,” Martin says.”
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