19 Sep 2021, 09:58

In-person Emmys return as Netflix eyes TV's top prize with 'The Crown'

  LOS ANGELES, Sept 19, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Television's top stars will gather

in person for the first time in two years at Sunday's Emmys, where Netflix is
tipped to finally win the small screen's biggest prize for "The Crown."

  The critically adored British royals saga will battle for the best drama
prize with "Star Wars" series "The Mandalorian" and others at a ceremony held
outdoors with a limited live audience in downtown Los Angeles due to ongoing
Covid-19 concerns.

  Leading streamer Netflix has utterly transformed the TV landscape since
creating its first original show in 2012, but surprisingly has never won a
top series prize at television's equivalent of the Oscars -- best drama, best
comedy, or best limited series.

  "'The Crown' does feel like it finally has come to the moment where it's
going to have its moment," Variety awards editor Clayton Davis told AFP.
"It's going to be the first big series win for Netflix."

  "The writing is on the wall. This is Netflix's year," wrote IndieWire's TV
awards editor Libby Hill.

  As well as "The Crown" -- which in its fourth season depicts the ill-fated
marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana -- the streaming giant is
banking on the wildly popular "The Queen's Gambit."

  Starring Anya Taylor-Joy as a gifted but troubled chess prodigy, that show
sent chessboard sales skyrocketing worldwide, and is the favorite to win top
honors in the fiercely competitive limited series section -- for shows ending
after one season.

  Add in nominations from Regency romp "Bridgerton" to nature documentary
"David Attenborough: A Life on our Planet" -- plus 34 Emmys won in technical
categories announced ahead of Sunday's gala -- and Netflix could be eyeing an
all-time record haul.

  "What we're seeing is Netflix finally breaking through," Deadline columnist
Pete Hammond told AFP.

   "They've always done well with the nominations, but never the final

  - Disney+ arrives -

  If anyone can ruin Netflix's party, it will likely be Disney+, the new kid
on the TV streaming block in just its second year, bringing beloved big-
screen characters from "Star Wars" and Marvel films to the Emmys party.

  Baby Yoda and a digitally de-aged Luke Skywalker helped "The Mandalorian"
jointly top the overall nominations count alongside rival drama "The Crown."

  An outside bet for best drama is "Pose" -- Billy Porter's LGBTQ-focused
show exploring New York's 1980s underground ballroom culture has mounted a
dazzling Emmys campaign for its final season.

  In limited series competition, quirky sitcom-inspired Marvel superhero show
"WandaVision" on Disney+ has exceeded all critical expectations.

  The category also features Kate Winslet's small-town detective drama "Mare
of Easttown," and British break-out series "I May Destroy You," which
examines the aftermath of a rape -- both from traditional Emmys juggernaut

  - 'Fun, ritzy party' -

  Last year's ceremony -- held before coronavirus vaccines were available --
was an entirely virtual affair, with comedian Jimmy Kimmel standing in a
deserted downtown Los Angeles auditorium as winners beamed in via video.

  This time, comedian Cedric the Entertainer takes on hosting duties, with a
strict guest list of 500-odd nominees gathering under strict pandemic
precautions including proof of inoculation.

  "Making that level of celebrities ill is not on our agenda," Emmys producer
Ian Stewart told Variety, nonetheless promising a "fun, ritzy party" for
those who clear security.

  With the Delta variant still raging and international travel complicated,
some overseas contenders including the cast of "The Crown" are expected to
dial in from a London satellite hub.

  The strategy echoes the approach adopted last year by the cast of "Schitt's
Creek," who swept every comedy acting prize at the start of the Emmys
ceremony as they beamed in from their base in Toronto.

  This year, Apple TV+ phenomenon "Ted Lasso" is the comedy frontrunner, and
Jason Sudeikis is a favorite for best actor for his work as an out-of-his-
depth American football coach handed control of an English soccer team.

  "I think the show will end up with another 'Schitt's Creek' kind of
situation, where it wins everything in the first 45 minutes of the show,"
said Hammond.

  Many A-list stars are expected to appear Sunday, but others such as
"Friends: The Reunion" nominee Jennifer Aniston have decided to stay away for
health reasons.

  The slimmed-down audience capacity means some of those in contention will
not even have invitations.

  "It's going to look different," said Davis. "Hopefully, I just cross my
fingers this is the last 'hybrid' show that we see.

  "I'm really just hoping it's the last one. Because I'm done with them. And
I think the rest of America are."


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