Emmy producers are turning to winners for big moments at host-free show

Done+Dusted partner Guy Carrington was in the production truck last year at the Emmys when director Glenn Weiss, who had just won the Emmy for helming the Oscars, surprised the Microsoft Theater audience by proposing to his girlfriend.

“For me in the truck, it was a horrifying moment,” says Carrington, who told me it added about seven minutes to a show that was already running long. “But at the same time, it was gold. It’s what a show like this needs. You watch the clock tick away … but you know that this is going to be a moment that everyone is going to talk about.”

This year, Done+Dusted and Don Mischer Prods., which are jointly producing the Emmys for Fox on Sept. 22, are hoping for a few more Glenn Weiss-like elements. Without a host to create any watercooler moments, it will be up to the show’s winners to provide a bigger share of the surprises that people will be talking about on social media.

“The moment that can make or break these kinds of shows, that make them memorable, are often things producers have absolutely no control over,” Mischer says. “Are there surprise wins? Are there underdogs that win? Is there someone who’s been nominated dozens of times who hasn’t won and finally wins? These all carry more emotional freight. We don’t have any idea who’s going to win until the envelope is opened, and we have no control over what a winner will say. So if a winner gets up there and makes an eloquent, emotional speech about what this moment means to them, that’s not something we can produce or write.”

12 PHOTOS
2019 Emmy Nominees, Lead Actor / Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
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2019 Emmy Nominees, Lead Actor / Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"
Christina Applegate, "Dead to Me"
Natasha Lyonne, "Russian Doll"
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, "Fleabag"
Rachel Brosnahan, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"
Catherine O'Hara, "Schitt's Creek"
Eugene Levy, "Schitt's Creek"
Anthony Anderson, "Black-ish"
Ted Danson, "The Good Place"
Don Cheadle, "Black Monday"
Bill Hader, "Barry"
Michael Douglas, "The Kominsky Method"
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Without a host, Mischer and Carrington say there will at least be extra time to let winners create those moments. Getting rid of a full monologue and other host routines will save nearly 20 minutes that can be applied to other elements — including, most importantly, ending the show on time. 

“When you go past 11, I don’t care who’s on that stage or what they’re doing, people turn you off,” Mischer says. “That really affects the overall ratings and success of the show. We have to keep that in mind.”

The Emmys’ biggest problem is the sheer number of kudos that need to be televised: 27, more than any other major awards show. The Television Academy previously floated the idea of handing out some of those awards before the ceremony or during commercial breaks (aiming to edit down acceptance speeches and air them tape-delayed during the ceremony), but the various guilds have protested those attempts. “It’s not easy — I’ll be honest,” Mischer says of balancing the network’s and TV Academy’s needs, which are often contradictory.

Without a host, the show is expected to jump immediately into the awards, and rely on the night’s presenters to “do more than a little bit of patter and then throw to a nominations package,” Carrington says. “We had a discussion very early about getting into the awards as quickly as possible. You have a host, and it can be a bit hit or miss. It’s a lot of time before you give out the first award, and the awards are what we’re there for. We’re there to celebrate the content and the people who make it. We made a conscious effort to focus on that.”

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Inside the 1968 Emmy Awards
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Inside the 1968 Emmy Awards
1968: American actor Lucille Ball sits at a dinner table with her second husband Gary Morton (L) during the Emmy Awards after-party, Los Angeles, California. She wears a long feather boa, and holds a cigarette. (Photo by Max B. Miller/Fotos International/Getty Images)
American film director John Derek (1926 - 1998) and his wife Linda Evans sit at a table during the Emmy Awards ceremonies, May 1968. (Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images)
Actors Greg Morris (left) and Martin Landau sitting with actress Barbara Bain as she holds on to her award for the show 'Mission: Impossible', at the Emmy Awards, circa 1968. (Photo Bob Grant/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
20TH ANNUAL PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS -- Aired 05/19/1968 -- Pictured: (l) Actor Fred Rogers aka Mr. Rogers (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
20TH ANNUAL PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS -- Aired 05/19/1968 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actors Elizabeth Montgomery and Jackie Cooper (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Actor Art Carney attends 20th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on May 19, 1968 at the Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Joey Heatherton and Lloyd Bridges during Joey Heatherton, Maureen Stapleton and Lloyd Bridges sighted at the Emmy Awards - September 1, 1968 at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
(Original Caption) 5/19/1968-Hollywood, CA-Three top individual winners at the Emmy awards are (L-R): Don Adams (comedy), Lucille Ball (Comedy) and Bill Cosby (Drama series). All three received their awards for outstanding performance in a series leading role.
LOS ANGELES,CA - MAY 19,1968: Comedian Pat Paulsen attends the 20th Prime time Emmy Award at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles,CA. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
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The producers have divided the Emmy telecast into five parts, centering on key TV genres: Comedy, drama, limited series, unscripted and variety. “We want the first presenters to come out and talk about the significance of those particular genres of television in the past season,” Mischer says.

Some of the night’s segments will celebrate the large number of landmark shows leaving TV this year — “Game of Thrones,” “Veep,” “The Big Bang Theory” and others. Mischer and Carrington also say they hope they now have a bit of a time cushion to allow the more poignant winners’ speeches to go longer, rather than cutting them off after 45 seconds. 

But there’s no guarantee another Glenn Weiss event will happen. That’s where the winners really need to step up their game. Ideally, no one will walk onstage, open up a crinkled piece of paper and recite a litany of thanks to names the audience has never heard of. Yet pleas for winners to make it entertaining often fall on deaf ears. And it almost never fails: As soon as the producers cue the orchestra to start playing off a winner whose boring speech has droned on for too long, he or she will suddenly perk up and offer the deeply emotional reaction that should have been given in the beginning.

“For those of us who do these kinds of programs, we get an adrenaline rush from rolling the dice and knowing we’re going to have to ride this thing out no matter what happens,” Mischer says. “It’s kind of the fun of being in this business. I love live television, and that’s one reason why.”  

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Prettiest Emmy dresses of all time
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Prettiest Emmy dresses of all time
PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Mary Tyler Moore attends the 39th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 20, 1987 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Jane Seymour (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 19: TV journalist Barbara Walters attends the 45th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 19, 1993 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actress/singer Barbra Streisand holding her awards in Press Room at Primetime Emmy Awards. (Photo by Mirek Towski/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Actress Leslie Uggams attends 50th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 13, 1998 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 22: Actress Jennifer Aniston poses with her Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series award for 'Friends' backstage during the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on September 22, 2002 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)
Sarah Jessica Parker during The 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals at The Shrine Theater in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
Alicia Silverstone during 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Chris Weeks/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 19: Actress Kristin Davis attends 'HBO'S Post Emmy Party' at the Pacific Design Centre on September 19, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Heidi Klum arrives at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theater on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Actress Evangeline Lilly arrives at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theater on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Blake Lively arrives at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theatre on September 20, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Olivia Wilde arrives at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theatre on September 20, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actress January Jones arrives at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theatre on September 20, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 29: Actress Nina Dobrev arrives at the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 29, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Gwyneth Paltrow arrives at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 18, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Actress Emilia Clarke arrives at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Actress Sofia Vergara arrives at the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Julie Bowen on the Red Carpet for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, which will be broadcast live across the country 8:00-11:00 PM ET/ 5:00-8:00 PM PT from NOKIA Theater L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 22 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Trae Patton/CBS Photo Archive/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA- SEPTEMBER 22: Actress Tina Fey arrives at the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA- SEPTEMBER 22: Actress Amy Poehler arrives at the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Actress Samira Wiley attends the 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Actress Allison Williams attends the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Actress Julia Roberts arrives at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus arrives at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Lady Gaga attends the 67th Emmy Awards, September 20, 2015 at the Microsoft Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Sarah Hyland attends the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Emma Roberts attends the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Kristen Bell arrives at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Sarah Paulson arrives at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Claire Danes arrives at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Tracee Ellis Ross attends the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Kirsten Dunst attends the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Taraji P. Henson attends the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Priyanka Chopra attends the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Actress Jessica Biel arrives at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Zoe Kravitz attends the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Millie Bobby Brown arrives at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Nicole Kidman arrives at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)
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